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

Page 340

“Even the most old-fashioned Jews immigrating to this country,” he says, “change Yosel to Joseph, Yankel to Jacob, Liebel to Louis, Feivel to Philip, Itzik to Isaac, Ruven to Robert, and Moise or Motel to Morris.” Moreover, the spelling of Morris, as the position of its bearer improves, commonly changes to Maurice, though the pronunciation may remain Mawruss, as in the case of Mr. Perlmutter. The immigrants of other stocks follow the same habit. The Italian Giuseppe quickly becomes Joseph and his brother Francesco is as quickly transformed into Frank. The Greek Athanasios is changed to Nathan or Tom, Panagiotis to Peter, Constantine to Gus, Demetrios to James, Chasalambos to Charles and Vasilios (Basil) to Bill. The Dutch Dirk becomes Dick, Klaas becomes Clarence or Claude, Gerrit becomes Garrett or Garritt, Mina becomes Minnie, Neeltje becomes Nellie, Barend becomes Barney, Maarten becomes Martin, Arie becomes Arthur, and Douwe becomes Dewey. 42 The Polish Stanislav is changed to Stanley, Czeslan to Chester, and Kazimierz to Casey. 43 Every Bohemian Jaroslav becomes Jerry, every Bronislav a Barney, every Stanislav a Stanley and every Vaclav or Vojtech a William. 44 The Hungarians and the Balkan peoples run to Frank, John and Joe; the Russians quickly drop their national system of nomenclature and give their children names according to the American plan. Even the Chinese laundrymen of the big cities become John, George, Charlie and Frank; I once encountered one boasting the name of Emil.
  The Puritan influence, in names as in ideas, has remained a good deal more potent in America than in England. The given name of the celebrated Praise-God Barebone marked a fashion which died out in England very quickly, but one still finds traces of it in America, e. g., in such women’s names as Faith, Hope, Prudence, Charity and Mercy, and in such men’s names as Peregrine. 45 The