Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Wed Aug 26 20:27:39 UTC 2009

Way back in radio days, it was a standard ploy for the comic-relief
Jewish character - Jack Benny was Jewish, but, on his radio show, he
wasn't a Jewish *character*, or even Jewish at all, if you gnome sane
- to "mishear" the surname of Billy Eckstine [-staIn] (a black singer
of *very* distant Jewish ancestry) as "Epstein" [-stin], causing the
C-R JC to mistake him for a Jew.

This always struck me as odd, since, if Saint Louis's probably now
long-defunct Rabbi Eckstine Hebrew School is any indicator, "Eckstine"
as it stood was already Jewish enough for government work.

One of my high-school classmates was named "Epstein" [-staIn]. Since I
didn't know from Jews till much later in life, being black on the one
hand and Catholic on the other, it has never occurred to me till now
to wonder whether he might have been Jewish.


On Wed, Aug 26, 2009 at 2:40 PM, Mark Mandel<Mark.A.Mandel at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Mark Mandel <Mark.A.Mandel at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: deixis
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> I haven't seen anyone mentioning the influence of German loans. "ei" is
> standardly [aI] in German and in English loans from German. I would also
> include surnames in the possible influences; the only class of exception
> that comes to mind is the variation between [i] and [aI] in final "-stein",
> e.g., some Epsteins are /'EpstaIn/s and some are /'Epstin/s.
> Mark Mandel
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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