H.L. Mencken (18801956). The American Language. 1921.
meaning of various American words and phrases. Asiatics are equally observant of the fast-growing differences. In the first number of the Moslem Sunrise, a quarterly edited by Dr. Mufti Muhammad Sadig, there is an explanatory note, apparently for the guidance of East Indian Mohammedan missionaries in the United States, upon certain peculiarities of the American vocabulary.
All the Continental Europeans who discuss the matter seem to take it for granted that American and English are now definitely separated. When I was in Germany as a correspondent, in 1917, I met many German officers who spoke English fluently. Some had learned it in England and some in America, and I noted that they were fully conscious of the difference between the two dialects, and often referred to it. M. Clemenceau, who acquired a very fluent and idiomatic English during his early days in New York, is always at pains to inform those who compliment him upon it that it is not English at all, but American. The new interest in American literature in France, growing out of the establishment of a chair of American Literature and Civilization at the Sorbonne, with Charles Cestre as incumbent, has brought forth several articles upon the peculiarities of American in the French reviews. Early in May, 1920, in discussing La Poésie américaine daujourdhui in Les Marges, Eugène Montfort argued that American showed every sign of being more vigorous than English, and would eventually take on complete autonomy. A philologist of Scandinavian extraction, Elias Molee, has gone so far as to argue that the acquisition of correct English, to a people grown so mongrel in blood as the Americans, has already become a useless burden. In place of it he proposes a mixed tongue, based on English, but admitting various elements from the other Germanic languages. His grammar, however, is so much more complex than that of English that most Americans would probably find his artificial American very difficult of acquirement. At all events it has made no progress.51
Note 51. Molees notions are set forth in Plea for an American Language ; Chicago, 1888; and Tutonish; Chicago, 1902. He announced the preparation of A Dictionary of the American Language in 1888, but so far as I know it has not been published. He was born in Wisconsin, of Norwegian parents, in 1845, and pursued linguistic studies at the University of Wisconsin, where he seems to have taken a Ph.B. [back]