H.L. Mencken (18801956). The American Language. 1921.
these are devised by advertisement writers or college students and belong properly to slang, but there is a steady movement of selected specimens into the common vocabulary. The words in -doodle hint at German influences, and those in -ino owe something to Italian or maybe to Spanish.
4. Foreign Influences Today
The extent of such influences as those last noted upon the development of American, and particularly spoken American, is often underestimated. In no other large nation of the world are there so many aliens, nor is there any other in which so large a proportion of the resident aliens speak languages incomprehensible to the native. Since 1820 nearly 35,000,000 immigrants have come into this country, and of them probably not 10,000,000 brought any preliminary acquaintance with English with them. The census of 1910 showed that nearly 1,500,000 persons then living permanently on American soil could not speak it at all; that more than 13,000,000 had been born in other countries, chiefly of different language;75 and that nearly 20,000,000 were the children of such immigrants, and hence under the influence of their speech habits. No other country houses so many aliens. In Great Britain the alien population, for a century past, has never been more than 2 per cent of the total population, and since the passage of the Aliens Act of 1905 it has tended to decline steadily. In Germany, in 1910, there were but 1,259,873 aliens in a population of more than 60,000,000, and of these nearly half were German-speaking Austrians and Swiss. In France, in 1906, there were 1,000,000 foreigners in a population of 39,000,000 and a third of them were French-speaking Belgians, Luxembourgeois and Swiss. In Italy, in 1911, there were but 350,000 in a population of 35,000,000.
This large and constantly reinforced admixture of foreigners has
Note 75. As I write the 1920 returns are not complete. But a preliminary bulletin shows there were 13,703,987 foreign-born whites in the country that year, of whom less than 3,000,000 came from countries of English speech. [back]