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H.L. Mencken (1880–1956). The American Language. 1921.

Page 200

name had become as completely Americanized as the thing itself, and so liberty-cabbage seemed affected and absurd. In the same way a great many other German words survived the passions of the time. Nor could all the ardor of the professional patriots obliterate that German influence which has fastened upon the American yes something of the quality of ja, or prevent the constant appearance of such German loan-forms as “it listens well” and “I want out.” Many American loan-words are of startlingly outlandish origin. Hooch, according to a recent writer, 83 is from a northwestern Indian language, and so is skookum. Cuspidor, a typical Americanism, is from the Portuguese cuspador, one who spits. 84
  Constant familiarity with such immigrants from foreign languages and with the general speech habits of foreign peoples has made American a good deal more hospitable to loan-words than English, even in the absence of special pressure. Let the same word knock at the gates of the two languages, and American will admit it more readily, and give it at once a wider and more intimate currency. Examples are afforded by café, vaudeville, revue, employé, boulevard, cabaret, exposé, kindergarten, dépât, fête, and menu. Café, in American, is a word of much larger and more varied meaning than in English and is used much more frequently, and by many more persons. So is employé, in the naturalized form of employee. So is toilet: we have even seen it as a euphemism for native terms that otherwise would be in daily use. So is kindergarten: during the war I read of a kindergarten for the elementary instruction of conscripts. Such words are not unknown to the Englishman, but when he uses them it is with a plain sense of their foreignness. In American they are completely naturalized, as is shown by the spelling and pronunciation of most of them. An American would no more think of attempting the correct French pronunciation of depot (though he always makes the final t silent), or of putting the French accents upon it than he would think of spelling toilet with the final te or of essaying to pronounce Münchner in the German manner.