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

Page 198

naturally exerted a constant pressure upon the national language, for the majority of them, at least in the first generation, have found it quite impossible to acquire it in any purity, and even their children have grown up with speech habits differing radically from those of correct English. The effects of this pressure are obviously two-fold; on the one hand the foreigner, struggling with a strange and difficult tongue, makes efforts to simplify it as much as possible, and so strengthens the native tendency to disregard all niceties and complexities, and on the other hand he corrupts it with words and locutions from the language he has brought with him, and sometimes with whole idioms and grammatical forms. We have seen, in earlier chapters, how the Dutch and French of colonial days enriched the vocabulary of the colonists, how the German immigrants of the first half of the nineteenth century enriched it still further, and how the Irish of the same period influenced its everyday usages. The same process is still going on. The Italians, the Slavs, and above all, the Russian Jews, make steady contributions to the American vocabulary and idiom, and though these contributions are often concealed by quick and complete naturalization their foreignness to English remains none the less obvious. I should worry, 76 In its way, is correct English, but in essence it is as completely Yiddish as kosher, ganof, schadchen, oi-yoi, or mazuma. 77
  The extent of such influences remains to be studied; in the whole literature I can find but one formal article upon the subject. That article 78 deals specifically with the suffix -fest, which came into American from the German and was probably suggested by familiarity