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Vincenzo to James/Jimmy – Behind the Americanization of Italian Names

It was not uncommon for immigrants from Italy to be called names that differ from their birth names. For example, many individuals named Vincenzo were often called "Jimmy" or "James". Have you ever wondered why?

It was not uncommon for immigrants from Italy to be called names that differed from their birth names. For example, many individuals named Vincenzo were often called “Jimmy” or “James”. Have you ever wondered why?

There are several explanations to this but the most widely believed one is that the common nickname for Vincenzo is “Cenz”. When an Italian pronounces “Cenz” it sounds quite like “James” in English. The English pronunciation of Vincenzo is much different from the English pronunciation. The “c” in the Italian version sounds like “ch” as in “church” whereas the “c” in the English version sounds like “c” as in “cent”. You can hear the pronunciations HERE.

Did any of your relatives have an Italian named with a different American nickname? Let us know in the comments!

Sources:

1 comment

  1. Annuziatta==Nancy
    Rosario==Russell
    Giacomo==Jack
    Francesco=Frank
    Vincenza==Vivian
    Bartolmeo==Bart
    Rosaria==Sadina==Sadie

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