JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: Yiddish equivalents #general

Warren Blatt <wblatt@...>

Susan Weiner <SBWeiner@...> wrote:

What are the likely Yiddish equivalents for the following names --
Louis, Meyer, Celia, Golda, Mildred, Max, Harry, Ida?

I'm seeking this info for use in looking up some of my relatives
in the index to passenger arrivals.

Of course there are no absolute "Yiddish equivalents" of any name.
Names don't "translate" into other languages. Jewish immigrants
from Eastern Europe to America were free to take any name they
pleased after immigration. They would typically chose an American
name that sounded similar or starts with the same first letter or
sound as one of their Hebrew or Yiddish names, and was fashionable
at that time. There are no definitive rules for these name
transformations, only patterns, based on which English names were
popular in America at the time of immigration.

I am currently studying this Hebrew-to-English given name
correlation for East European immigrants to America, based on
tombstones in early 20th-century landsmanshaft cemeteries in
New York and Boston. Tombstones are a great source of this type
of information, because they contain both the Hebrew and the
English given name. Post-1906 U.S. naturalization documents are
another source of this type of information: they contain both the
European immigrant (Yiddish) name, and the new American name.

Below are the statistics that I've calculated for the English
given names which you ask about. But first, something to bear
in mind: Tombstones most often contain a person's Hebrew name
(i.e. religious name), while passenger lists contain a person's
Yiddish name (i.e. secular name). There are various correlations
between the relgious and secular name -- a much more direct
relationship than that between either of them and the American
English name. For details, see my article "Jewish Given Names
in Eastern Europe and the U.S." in the most recent issue of
"Avotaynu" (XIV:3, Fall 1998, pages 9-15).

For the English names you asked about, here are the corresponding
Hebrew names which I found in my tombstone study:

Louis -- 64% were Leib / Yehudah Leib / Arya Leib
24% were Eliezer (Lazer), 5% Lipman / Lipa,
2% Eliahu, 1% Levi, 1% Lemel, 2% other

NOTE that a multitude of spelling varients of these names might
be found on a passenger manifest: Leib, Lejb, Leyb, Laib, or any
of its diminutives: Leibish, Label, Leibka, etc.

The spelling found on a passenger manifest is likely to reflect the
phonetics of the language of the *ship*, rather than the language
of the passenger. For instance, on a German ship (one sailing from
Hamburg or Bremen), names would more likely be spelled using German
phonetic spelling -- for example: "Leibusch" instead of a Polish
spelling like "Lejbusz".

Meyer -- Meyer is a Hebrew name, also used as a secular name.
100% of those with the English name Meyer were also
Meir in Hebrew in my study.

NOTE that many people have Hebrew "double names" on tombstones --
two names that may or may not be related. Examples of unrelated
double names found were Meir Dov, Meir Avraham, Beniamin Meir, etc.
The new American name could be based on either Hebrew name.

Don't forget to look for all the various European spelling
varients of this name: Mejer, Maier, Majer, etc.

Celia -- 24% Tzirul, 18% Tzipa / Tzipora, 12% Sima,
6% Tzivia, 6% Sarah, and 24% various others:
Sosye, Shifra, Silka, Simcha, Zelda, Zisel, Glika...

Golda -- is a Yiddish name.
100% were Golda

Mildred -- This was not a popular name among immigrants.
There weren't enough in my study to be statistically
significant. There were single exmaples of the Hebrew
names Matla and Malka.

Max --- 64% were Mordechai,
17% Menachem / Mendel,
5% Moshe, 5% Mayer,
9% others: Elimelech, Menashe, Michel, Manes

Harry -- 63% were Hersh / Hershel / Tzvi,
9% Aharon, 4% Chaim, 4% Gershon, 4% Henoch,
4% Yitzchak, 3% Avraham, 3% Yechezkel / Chaskel,
Also: Arya, Yechiel, Hilel, Naftali, Nechemiah, other

Ida --- 76% were Chaya,
8% Ita / Eta / Etel / Aidel / Yetta / Yehudit,
6% Hadas / Hadassah / Ester,
Also: Yocheved, Hena, Hinda, others


Warren Blatt
Boston, MA

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