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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Baby Naming Issue: Dutch Names

Erika writes:
Hi, my name is Erika and my husband's name is Kirk. We are having our first child, due in January.

My husband does not want any repeats of names from his family or mine, save for the middle names. Turns out his family boy names are all traditional and rather ho-hum, like Ed, John, Paul. He would like the middle name to be Lydia or Marie after his grandmothers if we have a girl. I am of Dutch heritage and would like to preserve some of this heritage in the name of our kids if possible. One girl's Dutch name I like is Marika. My maiden name is VanStralen. However, I do like Biblical names, as well. Our last name is Bode, pronounced Bodee with a long "o". I would also not like a name that is in the top 20 currently.

Thank you for taking the time...we would love suggestions!

Does your husband mind looking farther back in the family trees, or is it just current family he doesn't want to repeat? If he wouldn't mind some long-gone family names, I suggest looking in your own Dutch family tree for ideas. Or, if your husband would prefer, you can look in mine.

In my own Dutch family tree, there's Derk for a boy, which my family would all be more tempted to use (he's our Crossed The Sea ancestor) if it didn't rhyme with jerk. Perhaps this is not as big a risk as we think, considering the popularity of Cooper-rhymes-with-pooper. In your family, the bigger problem is that Derk rhymes with Kirk.

There's also Hendrik, which is like a combination of Henry and Eric, and in fact you could call him Henry for short. In fact, I wish I'd thought of this when naming my own children, since both Henry and Eric were on our finalist list, and since we have not only Hendriks but Hendrikas (one of whom was our other Crossed The Sea ancestor) in our family tree.

I have many ancestors named Willem, which is a good way to get the nickname Will without going into the Top 20 (William was #8 in 2008, according to the Social Security Administration).

Ooo, and here's a Gerrit! Again, a name we're familiar with (Garrett) but with a Dutch spelling that reflects your heritage. We would have considered this name if the Gerrit in my husband's own Dutch family tree hadn't been such a jerk.

For girl names I see a lot of women named Hanna, which has a top-20 equivalent in the biblical name Hannah (#17 in 2008, according to the Social Security Administration), but I still think it's worth considering: a good Dutch name that's nevertheless familiar. (I seem to be ignoring your requirements one by one, first the family names and now the Top 20.) Hanna Marie Bode.

I also have Willemina, which I think is a more U.S.-palatable spelling for Wilhelmina. I like this name anyway and would consider it for a future daughter, and it's enhanced by its excellent nickname possibilities: Willa and Mina would both be contemporary yet unusual choices. Willemina Marie Bode.

Here's Cornelia, with the cute nicknames Cory or Neely or Lia, rather than, say, Corny. Cornelia Marie Bode.

Some other English-friendly Dutch girl names:
Anna (Anna is also biblical)
Johanna (Joanna is also biblical)

Some other English-friendly Dutch boy names:

Not everyone likes to do this (I remember a comment on a another post that claimed that if the spelling of an Italian name were altered by even one letter, it wasn't an Italian name anymore---perhaps people in Italy never use alternate spellings), but in our Dutch-origins family, we've translated Dutch names into English. For example, Dutch names starting with J are pronounced in Dutch as if they start with the English letter Y: Janna is more like Yonna. But because our family now speaks English, we translate it into English and pronounce it Janna, like Anna with a J. (Another translation option would be to spell it Yonna.)

We've also translated the boy's name Jan, which is the Dutch cognate of the name John and is pronounced Yon, by spelling it Jon and pronouncing it John. In our opinion this is a good compromise between on one hand wanting to honor our Dutch heritage, and on the other hand speaking English and living in the United States (where Jan is a girl's name pronounced to rhyme with van). Every family would have to figure out their own opinion on what's okay to change and what's not.

Name update 02-03-2010! Erika writes:
Just wanted to let you know in January 18th we had a baby boy! Thank you for your comments and suggestions on your blog. It was so fun to read it and see everyone's responses. We've named him Tyler Van Bode. My husband was fussier about the first name and didn't want Van as the first name so I gave it up for his middle name.


Rayne of Terror said...

My husband and I have lots of dutch ancestors and one surname that gets a lot of use in my family as a middle or first name in Ryman. My brother goes by the nn Ry. My great great great grandfather was Pennsylvania Dutch and was named Henri Ryman. My great grandmother was Naomi Ryman and she was the one who moved Ryman from surname to middle name, then my parents moved it to first name (sorta) status. Now I have my very own Henry Ryman.

beyond said...

Hmmm... many of the names I thought were Dutch turned out to be Scandinavian (Swedish, Norwegian, Danish) when I looked them up. Here are a few charming ones that apparently really are Dutch. (the ones with 'j' are pronounced 'y')


Good luck!

(Swistle, I always thought Gerritt/Garrett was Irish? Interesting.)

ashleyruthless said...

What about Annika? It's kind of a nod to both your name and your husband's, with the k.

I had neighbors growing up named Michele and Eric. They named their daughter Erika, which I thought was kind of fun.

StephLove said...

So many good suggestions already: I like Pieter, Schuyler and Willem for boys and Anna, Annika, Hanna and Johanna for girls. I'll do some middle matching for girls since I don't have any suggestions of my own.

Anna Lydia
Anna Marie
Annika Marie
Hanna Lydia
Johanna Marie

Swistle said...

Beyond- Could be! My husband and I both have Gerrits all over the Dutch (as in, still living in The Netherlands) sides of our family trees. I don't know where Garrett comes from. My Oxford Dictionary of First Names doesn't know either, just says it comes from the surname Gerald/Gerard and that in Ireland it may come from the Gaelic form of Gerald.

The same book says that Hettie is the nickname for the French/Latin name Henrietta, that Kirstin is Scottish, that Mariel is a short form of the Italian name Mariella, that Nina is Russian. It doesn't have the other names, except for Casper which it spells Caspar for the Dutch.

Oh, and it says Marika is Slavic! It's turning out to be very difficult to find out the origins of a lot of names, probably because of so many cultures coming up with similar names (like Jan/John/Juan), and because of no one knowing where specifically some names started, and because of the ways a country will sometimes use a name from another country even more than the name's original country used it, making it seem like a Country A name when it actually came from Country B, or whatevs.

Nadine said...

Got to your site via Twitter (samanthajcampen). I'm from The Netherlands. How cool you're considering Dutch names. I've noticed the names you have choosen in your post, are considered kind of old fashion/ traditional in The Netherlands.

I like the Dutch girl names: Lotte, Nienke, Imme, Marit, Emma.

Maybe it helps if you google on "traditionele nederlandse babynamen" (traditional dutch baby names)

Good luck!

Jos said...

I love Marika. I've seen it in the Netherlands also as Marieke, & a variant as Marijke (where the i+j makes kind of an "aii" sound. Annelies (can be Americanized to Annalies) is also nice.

for boys, my cousin named one of her sons Bram, pronounced "Brom" which I think a great boys name. I think it's a derivative/nickname for Abraham.

beyond said...

Swistle, yes, it's always more complicated than one thinks. and Nina totally shouldn't be in my 'Dutch' list above, as my source says it's of Hebrew, Native American, Slavic and Spanish origins. still a nice name though! and it depends on the source. for example, in nymbler Marika has Dutch, Hebrew and Slavic origins... it's all very fascinating.

Marieke said...

I came here from twitter as well. I'm Dutch too (first generation in the U.S.) and had a lot of fun picking out names for our two kids with my Panamanian husband. Marieke is the correct spelling for the dutch name (and it's my name! My parents figured it was Dutch yet cool and pronounceable for Americans when they chose it for me) (there is also a Marijke, pronounced with a long 'I' sound in the middle). I think Marieke/Marika are common variations all over Europe (Greece, Slavic, Dutch, whatever).

Here is a website I used to try and find names that were common in the Netherlands but potentially usable in America when we were naming our own kids:

It's the dutch version of the SSA listing of popular baby names, but unfortunately only the top twenty. (You can click on the links for some other listings) And Nadine had a good suggestion on what to google.

Marieke said...

As to actual baby name suggestions, I don't have a lot of dutch boys that spring to mind, but for girls I love the names Juliana and Beatrix, who are the previous and current Queens of the Netherlands.

StephLove said...

BTW, I forgot to say I like Marika. Also Annaliese.

OSquared said...

I also knew a dutch family. Two of their daughters are
Too bad it isn't your maiden name...Elsa Van Anything sounds cute.

Katie V. said...

I really like the Marijke spelling and Elsa is a wonderful suggestion!

More than Hendrik I like Henrik for a boy. I'm not sure if this is Dutch but Magnus is a great boys name! Not difficult to prn either :) All the best!

Megan said...

I have a friend Janna, but we pronounce it more like yawn-a and I think it is right pretty!

Annika said...

I saw that a few people recommended my name (yay!) and just wanted to say that this spelling is Swedish; Anneke is the Dutch spelling, and my mother has always regretted not using it.

Erika said...

Wow, all of you have been so helpful! Thanks for commenting. I was trying to decide on the spelling for Marika--loving the Marijke spelling the best but didn't want my poor kid having people say it wrong all the time! But if I have a girl, we'll see.

I didn't mention before that I like the name Van for a boy, to keep my maiden name in mind. I think Van Bode sounds sporty and just cool! But that's growing only slowly on my husband and a few in my family don't like it. But I watch TCM and there are a few actors that have the name Van, to prove it's not so weird, yeah?

I have also Anneke on my list, as I love Anneke Marie.

I laughed, Swistle, when you suggested Wilhelmina because we love the mints in our family! I do like the nn Mina a lot. Also, even more funny to me, when I was a child, my mom asked what I would have named myself and I said, "Cornelia" and was then called Corny for a long time growing up. So ironic!

My husband is the most fussy about the boys names but I will show him all of the suggestions.

Thank you so much Swistle, my Dutch cousins over in Holland (as I feel inclined to call you for some reason), and everyone for all your help. I will be sure to let you know what we decide the day of the birth!

Erika said...

I forgot to mention, as well, that my father's name, my grandfather's name, and several cousins' names are Dirk. Because it rhyme's with Kirk, it's probably out, but we do like Derek. I only have one cousin named Derek so it's on the list as well.

MLE said...

A friend with Dutch ancestry is named Janica - could also be spelled Janika or Jannika I suppose.

Peyton said...

My in-laws are Dutch, and in looking for names for my children, I came across this web site that seems fairly useful (at least, these are names I was hearing when I went to the Netherlands last spring):

Hope it helps!

Brittany said...

I moved to the Netherlands from America and I know some girls with these names. I have omited all popular names but these are just ones I have heard or read in books and they are lovely. Congratulations on your baby.

Marieke, Madelief, Eva, Noa (Noah), Noor, Esther, Anne, Annemarie (Anne-marie), Mieke, Juliana, Fleur, Tessa, Sofie, Anneke

Anonymous said...

I know you posted this a long time ago, but I thought I would just post a couple names. My mom is from Holland and my husband and I are both Dutch, so we wanted to name our children Dutch names. Our daughter is Eva (pronounced 'Ava') and her middle name is Marijke. Our son is Thijs (prounounced Tyse). Other favorite boys names are Case and Ryker.