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

Page 332

Frank Knapp, Francesco Tomasini is Frank Thomas, and Luigi Zampariello is Louis Smith. Henry Woodhouse, a gentleman prominent in aeronautical affairs, came to the United States from Italy as Mario Terenzio Enrico Casalegno; his new surname is simply a translation of his old one. The Belmonts, unable to find a euphonious English equivalent for their German patronymic of Schönberg, chose a French one that Americans could pronounce. Edmund Burke Fairfield, once chancellor of the University of Nebraska, was the descendant of a Frenchman named Beauchamp, who came to America in 1639.
  In part, as I have said, these changes in surname are enforced by the sheer inability of Americans to pronounce certain Continental consonants, and their disinclination to remember the Continental vowel sounds. Many an immigrant, finding his name constantly mispronounced, changes its vowels or drops some of its consonants; many another shortens it, or translates it, or changes it entirely for the same reason. Just as a well-known Greek-French poet changed his Greek name of Papadiamantopoulos to Moréas because Papadiamantopoulos was too much for Frenchmen, and as an eminent Polish-English novelist changed his Polish name of Karzeniowski to Conrad because few Englishmen could pronounce owski correctly, so the Italian or Greek or Slav immigrant, coming up for naturalization, very often sheds his family name with his old allegiance, and emerges as Taylor, Jackson or Wilson. I once encountered a firm of Polish Jews, showing the name of Robinson & Jones on its sign-board, whose partners were born Rubinowitz and Jonas. I lately heard of a German named Knoche—a name doubly difficult to Americans, what with the kn and the ch—who changed it boldly to Knox to avoid being called Nokky. A Greek named Papademetracopoulos, Harzidakis, Papalhesdoros, Sakorrhaphos, Jouphexes or Oikonomakes would find it practically impossible to carry on amicable business with Americans; his name would arouse their mirth, if not their downright ire. And the same burden would lie upon a Hungarian named Beniczkyné, or Gyalui, or Szilagyi, or Vezercsillagok. Or a Finn named Kyyhkysen, or Jääskelainen, or Tuulensuu, or Uotinen,—all honorable Finnish patronymics. Or a Swede named Sjogren, or Leijonhufvud. Or a Bohemian named Srb, or Hrubka. Or a