Have you ever wondered about the meaning of German names? Ever been puzzled about their origin or stumped by their
sometimes impossible combination of sounds? Have you ever wondered about the difference (or similarity) between Schaeffer and Shafer or Baugh and Bach? Most of us have, and Professor George F. Jones has thoughtfully put together an answer for us–an A-Z dictionary of German-American names, giving spellings, meanings, and
variants of about 18,000 names.
This third edition of his acclaimed German-American Names is longer than the earlier editions and has several thousand more entries. Like the earlier editions, it attempts to explain the meaning of names borne today by Americans which derive from the German language or its dialects. Moreover, it deals with the Americanization of some of those names, explaining the social and historical phenomena that contributed to the distinctive character of German-American names. And it deals as well with names many of us would never have thought of as German.
To place the dictionary in proper perspective, Prof. Jones has provided a lengthy introduction on German names–actually a treatise–with chapters devoted to (1) the origin and significance of given names; (2) the need and origin of surnames; and (3) Christian names. A substantial work in
itself, the introduction discusses the development of German names, name sources, name variations, and some of
the special characteristics of German-American names. But of course it’s the dictionary that is paramount. A
lifetime’s accumulation of German-American names and their meanings, its very convenience invites browsing. Best
of all, the dictionary is for everyone. German names are so widespread there can be few people who will fail to find
something of interest in a German-American name list.
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