H.L. Mencken > The American Language > Subject Index > Page 88
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H.L. Mencken (1880–1956).  The American Language.  1921.

Page 88
 
Ten thousand native idiomatic words are growing, or are already grown, out of which vast numbers could be used by American writers, with meaning and effect—words that would give that taste of identity and locality which is so dear in literature—words that would be welcomed by the nation, being of the national blood.
 
  As everyone knows, Whitman delighted in filling his poetry and prose with such new words, among them, the verbs to promulge, to eclaircise, to diminute, to imperturbe, to effuse and to inure, the adjectives ostent and adamic, the adverb affetuoso, and the nouns camerado, romanza, deliveress, literatus, acceptress and partiolist. Many of his coinages were in Spanish metal; he believed that American should not be restricted to the materials of English. I have heard it argued that he introduced finale into everyday American; the evidence is dubious, but certainly the word is much oftener used in the United States than in England. Most of his coinages, alas, died with him, just as ridiculosity died with its inventor, Charles Sumner, who announced its invention to the Senate with great formality, and argued that it would be justified by the analogy of curiosity. But These States has survived.
  Meanwhile, though conservatism lingered on the planes above Whitman, there was a wild and lawless development of the language on the planes below him, among the unfettered democrats of his adoration, and in the end the words and phrases thus brought to birth forced themselves into recognition, and profited by the literary declaration of independence of their very opponents. “The jus et norma loquendi,” says W. R. Morfill, the English philologist, “do not depend upon scholars.” Particularly in a country where scholarship is still new and wholly cloistered, and the overwhelming majority of the people are engaged upon novel and highly exhilarating tasks, far away from schools and with a gigantic cockiness in their hearts. The remnants of the Puritan civilization had been wiped out by the rise of the proletariat under Jackson, and whatever was fine and sensitive in it had died with it. What remained of an urbane habit of mind and utterance began to be confined to the narrowing feudal areas of the south and to the still narrower refuge of the Boston Brahmins, now, for the first time, a definitely recognized caste of intelligentsia, self-charged with carrying the torch of culture

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