My great-uncle from Eastern Europe had given name of Philip in America (came in 1880s), is shown in 1889 directory as Philip plus his surname. His gravestone gives his name as Yehoshua Falk [then surname] ben R. Mordechai. He was about 30 when he arrived in US. His naturalization application filed decades afer arrival has supplemental page with inquiry as to whether he was ever known by any other name. He said yes, "Falke." Line was stricken through this name, and he changed answer to "no." I know his surname was NOT Falk. I'm aware at least two famous rabbis were known as Joshua or Yehoshua Falk, either as given name plus surname or as compound given name. How did my relative turn into Philip in America? Any input would be welcome. Thank you.

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    are you assuming that the name "Phillip" was not an arbitrary "American" name that he was either given or chose? Or are you assuming that there is always an etymological or phonological relationship between Hebrew and English names? – rosends Dec 5 '12 at 15:04
  • To my ears, the name Philip is a perfect match for the Yiddish(?) "Falk." The direct translation of his first name would have been Joshua, but perhaps he felt it wasn't sufficiently "American-sounding." – Dave Dec 5 '12 at 15:33
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    My great aunts Hebrew name was Sarah and her English name was Ruth. Who said that there needs to be a connection? – Gershon Gold Dec 5 '12 at 15:41
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    Is this in scope? – Double AA Dec 5 '12 at 17:13
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    @DoubleAA I think it could be if it was significantly more general, ie "To what extent must there be a morphological connection between one's Hebrew name and one's common name?" – yoel Dec 5 '12 at 18:48

It's only recently that one's English name is usually identical or close to one's Jewish name.

In the olden days there was no connection. To give a few examples:.

A close relative of mine is called Joe (full legal name) and נתן - he is named after his grandfather Joseph - נתן.

Another close relative is called Monique Caroline - קיילה. Another is Edith - פייגא. Or my cousin Max - משולם.

Sometimes the English name was essentially a Jewish name, yet there was no match:

A Rov I know is called David - אלחנן משה. His cousins are called Elon - אלחנן משה and Saul - משולם שמעון.

I could go on, most of the people I grew up with had mismatching Hebrew-English names.

There's some chatting about this phenomena here.

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