H.L. Mencken (18801956). The American Language. 1921.
America it is always accented on the second. 50 In diminutives there are several differences. The English Jem is almost unknown in the United States and so are Hal and Alf. The English, on the other hand, seldom use Peggy, Teddy or Beth. In general there has been a tendency to drop diminutives. When I was a boy it was rare, at least in the South, to hear such names as Charles, William, Elizabeth, Frederick, Margaret and Lillian used in full, but now it is very common. This new custom, I believe, owes something to English example. 51
3. Geographical Names
There is no part of the world, said Robert Louis Stevenson, where nomenclature is so rich, poetical, humorous and picturesque as in the United States of America. A glance at the latest United States Official Postal Guide 52 or report of the United States Geographic Board 53 quite bears out this opinion. The map of the country is besprinkled with place names from at least half a hundred languages, living and dead, and among them one finds examples of the most daring and elaborate fancy. There are Spanish, French and Indian names as melodious and charming as running water; there are names out of the histories and mythologies of all the great races of man; there are names grotesque and names almost sublime. Mississippi! rhapsodized Walt Whitman; the word winds with chutesit rolls a stream three thousand miles long . Monongahela!
Note 50. The Irish present some curious variants. Thus, they divide Charles into two syllables. The man who founded the St. Louis Republic, in 1808, was an Irishman named Charles. He pronounced his name in two syllables. But his neighbors would not, so he added another s. Then he was known as Charless. [back]
Note 51. A rather curious device, apparently confined to Maryland, is that of distinguishing between two relatives (usually cousins) of the same surname and given name by adding the initials of their fathers given names. Thus, if two cousins are both named John Brown, the one being the son of Richard and the other of Thomas, the first becomes John Brown of R. and the second John Brown of T. [back]
Note 52. Issued annually in July, with monthly supplements. [back]
Note 53. The report here used is the fourth, covering the period 1890-1916; Washington, 1916. The fifth was published in 1921. [back]