The DEFINITIVE EDITION OF The American Language was published in 1936. Since then it has been recognized as a classic. It is that rarest of literary accomplishments—a book that is authoritative and scientific and is at the same time very diverting reading. But after 1936 HLM continued to gather new materials diligently. In 1945 those which related to the first six chapters of The American Language were published as Supplement I; the present volume contains those new materials which relate to the other chapters.
The ground thus covered in Supplement II is as follows:
1. American Pronunciation. Its history. Its divergence from English usage. The regional and racial dialects.
2. American Spelling. The influence of Noah Webster upon it. Its characters today. The simplified spelling movement. The treatment of loan words. Punctuation, capitalization, and abbreviation.
3. The Common Speech. Outlines of its grammar. Its verbs, pronouns, nouns, adjectives, and adverbs. The double negative. Other peculiarities.
4. Proper Names in America. Surnames. Given-names. Place-names. Other names.
5. American Slang. Its origin and history. The argot of various racial and occupational groups.
Although the text of Supplement II is related to that of The American Language, it is an independent work that may be read profitably by persons who do not know either The American Language or Supplement I.
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Henry Louis Mencken was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on September 12, 1880, and died there during the night of January 28-9, 1956. A son of August and Anne (Abhau) Mencken, he was educated privately and at the Baltimore Polytechnic. He married (August 27, 1930) Sara Powell Haardt, who died on May 31, 1935.
Mencken became a reporter for the Baltimore Morning Herald in 1899; its city editor in 1903; and editor of the Evening Herald in 1905. He served on the staff of the Baltimore Sun from 1906 to 1910 and on that of the Evening Sun from 1910 to 1917 and again from 1920 to 1935. But he never ceased to be associated with the Sun papers, and was for many, many years a director for their publishers, The A.S. Abell Company. He became a literary critic of the Smart Set in 1908, and was its co-editor from 1914 to 1923. He was editor of the American Mercury from 1924 to 1933.
His published books included: Ventures into Verse (1903); George Bernard Shaw—His Plays (1905); The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzche (1908); The Artist (1912); A Book of Burlesques (1916); A Little Book in C Major (1916); A Book of Prefaces (1917); In Defense of Women (1917); Damn—a Book of Calumny (1917); The American Language (1919—4th revision, 1936); Supplement I (1945); Supplement II (1948); Prejudices—First Series (1919); Second Series (1920); Third Series (1922); Fourth Series (1924); Fifth Series (1926); Sixth Series (1927); Notes on Democracy (1926); Treatise on the Gods (1930); Making a President (1932); Treatise on Right and Wrong (1934); Happy Days (1940); Newspaper Days (1941); Heathen Days (1943); A Christmas Story (1946); A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949); Minority Report (1956); The Bathtub Hoax (1958); H.L. Mencken on Music (1961); and Letters of H.L. Mencken (1961). Mencken also edited several books; he selected and edited A New Dictionary of Quotations (1942).
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