This surname of WANGEN is a German topographic name for someone who lived near a meadow. The name was derived from the Low German and Austrian/Bavarian term WANG. It is also an Ashkenazic Jewish name, applied to a Jew from Hungary. The name is also spelt WANGER, WANG, WANGNER, WANGLER, WANGE and VANG. Surnames which were derived from ancient Germanic personal names have the same meaning in many languages. The court of Charlemagne (Charles the Great, king of the Franks (742-814) was Christian and Latin speaking). The vernacular was the Frankish dialect of Old High German, and the personal names in use were Germanic and vernacular. These names were adopted in many parts of northwest Europe, particularly among the noble ruling classes. Hereditary surnames were found in Germany in the second half of the 12th century - a little later than in England and France. It was about the 16th century that they became stabilized. Walter WANGER (originally Walter Feuchtwanger) (1894-1968) was the American film-producer, born in San Francisco, California. After service in World War I, he joined Paramount as a producer, moved to Columbia and MGM, then went independent. Among his more ambitious films were 'Stagecoach' (1939) and 'Joan of Arc' (1948). Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error. Among the humbler classes of European society, and especially among illiterate people, individuals were willing to accept the mistakes of officials, clerks and priests as officially bestowing a new version of their surname, just as they had meekly accepted the surname they had been born with. In North America, the linguistic problems confronting immigration officials at Ellis Island in the 19th century were legendary as a prolific source of Anglicization.
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