The American Language: An Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States

By H. L. Mencken | Go to book overview

X.

PROPER NAMES IN AMERICA

1.
Surnames

On October 20, 1919, Mr. Mondell, of Wyoming, the majority leader, arose in the House of Representatives and called the attention of the House to the presence in the gallery of a detachment of 27 soldiers, "popularly known by the appropriate title and designation of 'Americans all.' " A few moments later Mr. Wilson, of Connecticut, had the names of these soldiers spread upon the record for the day. Here they are:

Pedro Araez Frank Kristopoulos
Sylvester Balchunas Johannes Lenferink
Arezio Aurechio Fidel Martin
Jules Boutin Attilio Marzi
Oasge Christiansen Gurt Mistrioty
Kusti Franti Michael Myatowych
Odilian Gosselin Francisco Pungi
Walter Hucko Joseph Rossignol
Argele Intili Ichae Semos
Henry Jurk Joe Shestak
David King George Strong
John Klok Hendrix Svennigsen
Norman Kerman Fritz Wold
Eugene Kristiansen

This was no unusual group of Americans, though it was deliberately assembled to convince Congress of the existence of a "melting pot that really melts." I turn to the list of promotions in the army sent in to the Senate on the first day of the Harding administration, and find Lanza, Huguet, Shaffer, Brambila, Straat, Knabenshue, De Armond, Meyer, Wiezorek and Stahl among the new colonels and lieu

-321-

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The American Language: An Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The American Language - An Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States *
  • Contents iii
  • Preface to the First Edition *
  • Preface to the Revised Edition xi
  • I - Introductory *
  • II - The Beginnings of American 45
  • III - The Period of Growth 74
  • IV - American and English Today *
  • V - International Exchanges 157
  • VI - Tendencies in American 173
  • VII - The Standard American Pronunciation 206
  • VIII - American Spelling 221
  • IX - The Common Speech 255
  • X - Proper Names in America 321
  • XI - American Slang 360
  • XII - The Future of the Language 372
  • Appendix 388
  • I - Specimens of the American Vulgate 388
  • II - Non-English Dialects in America 397
  • III - Proverb and Platitude 422
  • Bibliography 427
  • List of Words and Phrases 459
  • Index 483
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