Letter: Lost names

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The Independent Online
Sir: It is sad to read (31 August) that young Asians feel the need to Anglicise their names in order to find employment. These is nothing new in this; Jewish immigrants earlier this century submitted to a similar bastardisation, particularly of their surnames ('Black' for 'Schwartz', 'Owen' for 'Cohen', etc) to assimilate themselves and their families into their new communities with the minimum resentment and prejudice.

The sad result of this is that in many cases the original name has been lost to succeeding generations so that those who, like me, seek their cultural roots, are frustrated in that search. There is both poignancy and frustration in being the last member of a family which has fled the horrors of persecution and built a new life but lost its historical identity in the process.

A warning to the young Asians embarking upon this painful but often desperately necessary course of action: the loss of my family name has taken less than two generations of 'assimilation', and what little knowledge does remain dies with me.

Yours faithfully,


Brighton, East Sussex