H.L. Mencken (18801956). The American Language. 1921.
desire on the part of the speaker to use English words, a thing that becomes very pronounced in the jargon that is sometimes heard.
Dr. Flaten exhibits the following declension of a typical loanword, swindler. In Dano-Norwegian there is no letter w, and the suffix of agency is not -er but -ar; so the word becomes svindlar. It is regarded as masculine and declined thus:
(te) ein svindlar
aat noko svindlara
(te) noko svindlara
The vocabularies of Drs. Flaten and Flom show a large number of such substitutions of English (including some thoroughly American) words. The Dano-Norwegian φl is abandoned for the English beer, which becomes bir.Tonde succumbs to baerel, barel or baril (=barrel), frokost to brekkfaest (=breakfast), forsikring to inschurings (=insurance,)28stald to staebel (=stable), skat to taex (=tax,) and so on. The verbs yield in the same way: vaeljuéte (=valuate), titsche (teach), Katte (cut), Klém (claim), savére (survey), refjuse (refuse.) And the adjectives: plén (plain), jelős (jealous), kjokfuldt (chock-full), Krésé (crazy), aebel (able), Klir (clear), pjur (pure), pur (poor). And the adverbs and adverbial phrases: isé (easy), reit evé (right away), aept to (apt to), allreit (all right). Dr. Flaten lists some extremely grotesque compound words, e. g., nekk-tői (necktie), Kjaens-bogg (chinch-bug), hospaar (horse-power), gitte long (get along), hardvaer-staar (hardware-store), staets-praessen (states-prison), traevling-maen (traveling-man), uxe-jogg (yoke of oxen), stim-baat (steamboat). Pure Americanisms are not infrequent, e. g., bősta
Note 28. Connoisseurs will recall Abe Potashs insurings. What we have here is the substitution of a familiar suffix for one of somewhat similar sound but much less familiara frequent cause of phonetic decay. [back]