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

Page 87

people, the new vistas need a new tongue according—yes, what is more, they will have such a new tongue—will not be satisfied until it is evolved.” 15 According to Louis Untermeyer, a diligent and enthusiastic Whitmanista, old Walt deserves to be called “the father of the American language.” 16 He goes on:
This, in spite of its grandiloquent sound, is what he truly was. When the rest of literary America was still indulging in the polite language of pulpits and the lifeless rhetoric of its libraries, Whitman not only sensed the richness and vigor of the casual word, the colloquial phrase—he championed the vitality of slang, the freshness of our quickly assimilated jargons, the indigenous beauty of vulgarisms. He even predicted that no future native literature could exist that neglected this racy speech, that the vernacular of people as opposed to the language of literati would form the living accents of the best poets to come. One has only to observe the contemporary works of Carl Sandburg, Robert Frost, James Oppenheim, Edgar Lee Masters, John Hall Wheelock, Vachel Lindsay and a dozen others to see how Whitman’s prophecy has been fulfilled.
Words, especially the neglected words regarded as too crude and literal for literature, fascinated Whitman. The idea of an enriched language was scarcely ever out of his mind.… This interest … grew to great proportions; it became almost an obsession.
  Whitman himself spoke of “An American Primer” as “an attempt to describe the growth of an American English enjoying a distinct identity.” He proposed an American dictionary containing the actual everyday vocabulary of the people. To quote him again:
The Real Dictionary will give all words that exist in use, the bad words as well as any. The Real Grammar will be that which declares itself a nucleus of the spirit of the laws, with liberty to all to carry out the spirit of the laws; even by violating them, if necessary.
Many of the slang words are our best; slang words among fighting men, gamblers, thieves, are powerful words.… Much of America is shown in these and in newspaper names, and in names of characteristic amusements and games.…
Our tongue is full of strong words, native or adopted, to express the blood-born passion of the race for rudeness and resistance, as against mere polish.… These words are alive and sinewy—they walk, look, step with an air of command.…