Answers Activity 186


Early in the 19th century a number of British intellectuals and literary figures visited the United States and on returning home wrote books based
on what they had observed.

As far as language was , they were for the most part at what they heard. Frederick Marryat, in "A Diary in America", wrote, "It is remarkable how very debased the language has become in a short period in America".

In 1842, Charles Dickens, in a letter to his family, stated that Americans used the word "fix" for almost everything. On board a
the steward "fixed" the tables for breakfast; when a man is dressing in the morning he is "fixing" himself up for the day. A stagecoach in which Dickens was broke down and the driver said that he'd "fix it" in a minute.

In 1828 Basil Hall, in his book, "Travels in North America", wrote of his interview with Noah Webster, the man responsible for the first dictionary of the American language. Hall was quite
by what the Americans were doing to the English language. Webster irritated him by saying that his countrymen not only had the right to adopt new words but also to modify the language to suit the circumstances.

He told Hall it was as impossible to
the progress of language as it was to prohibit the flow of the Mississippi River. "If a word becomes universally acceptable in America, why should it not take its place in the language?" Hall thought a moment, then replied, "Because there are enough words already".


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