Books: Alphabet Soup

THE AMERICAN LANGUAGE: SUPPLEMENT I—H. L. Mencken—Knopf ($5).

The brashest, bounciest lexicographer who ever lived is a Baltimorean of German extraction named Henry Louis Mencken. His first, famed dictionary (The American Language, 1919) was dedicated to the proposition that English has now become only a dialect of American.

Author Mencken first intended The American Language: Supplement I to be a small addition to his American Language, soon discovered that his mass of new material had outgrown the parent volume. Many of Supplement I's 739 pages are devoted simply to supporting the thesis of The...

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