[The text of a plenary paper presented as Distinguished Speaker at the conference Globalization and World Englishes: Identity and Creativity, convened by the International Association of World Englishes (IAWE) at Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, USA, 16–18 July 2004.]
I MUST START with two disclaimers: First, my name is not James E. Alatis. It is Demetrious Efstathiou Alatis. In the early days of the 20th century, when many Greeks emigrated to the United States, the immigration authorities were troubled with the polysyllabic Greek names. They proceeded therefore to shorten them or otherwise change them to fit the American assimilationist mold. This was done either by transliteration, phonetic respelling, translation, or shortening: that is to say, initial, medial, or final clipping. The Greeks, of course, had a word for each of these processes: procope, syncope, and apocope. Thus, Papatriandaphilopoulos, became Papas or Poulos or Triandaphilos or Triandos or even just Tree. I knew a man whose name was Constantinous Papatriandaphilopoulos who had his name changed to Gus Rose. My own name, Demetrious, was shortened to Dim, and the closest thing to Dim was Jim. Most Demetriouses in those days became Jims.