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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVIII. Later National Literature, Part III.

XXX. The English Language in America

§ 1. The Attitude of the American Academy of Arts and Letters

ON 22 February, 1917, the American Academy of Arts and Letters sat to consider its duty toward the English language in America. The published reports of the session proclaim its “academic” character in that nothing resembling a plan of action was proposed. It was less to be expected, perhaps, that no problem should be clearly formulated, but this may be accounted for partly by reason of the fact that much of the discussion turned not on the problem itself but on the duty of the Academy in the face of a problem of which everyone more or less definitely assumed the existence without attempting to state it, and partly because the company contained among many skilful users of the English language hardly more than one qualified to speak from any extended study of the problem, a lack which was expressly noted. It is not so surprising that to the mind of an assembly of this sort English as written was more constantly present than English as spoken. But from so many men of accomplishment in various forms of artistic expression there could hardly fail to emerge various points of view, prejudices, agreements and disagreements, which further discussion of the subject would do well to begin by taking into account.