Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Mon Aug 18 20:48:04 UTC 2014

At 8/18/2014 01:41 PM, W Brewer wrote:

>JB:  <<His name doesn't end in -son.>>
>WB:  Wonder if JB's daddy was Papa Ber ...

The tradition is that it was my paternal grandfather, with the 
not-uncommon tale type that his Russian (not Icelandic) name (the one 
allowed by the authorities of his region of emigration, beyond the 
pale) was unpronounceable, according to the Ellis Island official of 
around 1905.  My grandfather's father's given name was "Behr" (or 
some other spelling in Latin letters, and I don't know whether it was 
Russian, Yiddish, or Hebrew), and my grandfather became "Berson" 
(pronounced now as "Brr-son", as in the shiver of cold).  I have seen 
my grandfather's ship papers, from Hamburg of course, with a Russian 
name that neither I nor my brother can read, let alone 
pronounce.  (No translation of the name into German .. and even it 
there was, it would probably have been in the equally-unreadable Fraktur.)


P.S.  What region do I belong to if I distinguish "bear", "beer", 
"burr", and "brr"? 

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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