Hello Duana!
My husband and I are currently expecting #3.  We already have 2 girls (Elyze and Annika) and do not plan on finding out the sex of this baby.  If we have a girl I would really love to find a way to honour my mom's side of the family with her name.  The thing is that my mom has a Dutch background and Dutch female names just don't translate very well into English!  Could you decipher any magic out of "Henderika" (my mom goes by Rita), "Martje" (pronounced Mat-cha) or "Gezina" (my Oma who went by Sina).  Our last name has 3 syllables, begins with B and has a "z" sound in the middle.  As a bonus - if we don't have a girl, I still have 2 sisters who are planning babies over the next couple years - so they will also benefit from your insight!
Thanks so much!


Well this is refreshing!

What lovely names you have to choose from, aren’t you lucky? I would, without any hesitation, call a baby girl Gezina. It’s the same length as Annika, it’s easily shortened to Zina if you want it to be. The fact that she’ll then be called Xena: Warrior Princess by annoying parents is going to be irritating to you, but quite possibly will be a delight to her. No kidding. I suspect you really want a nickname for it, but you really don’t need one if you don’t want it. Gezina is lovely. It makes me think of Galina, the girlfriend in Center Stage that the boy wanted to dance with.  

The easiest adaptation for me from Henderika is to go with Henri. Elyze and Annika and Henri. It’s not as overtly feminine so that may bother you, but to me (and probably to you), Rita is a mom’s name right now, or an aunt’s. You could go with Rika if you prefer, but everyone is going to hear Rita anyway, so it might not be worth the effort. Henri is where I would go here – or Henny! Oh man, any interest in Henny? Now I’m having All-Of-A-Kind-Family flashbacks. Or, you know, Henri. Or Henderika. I don’t think it’s that outlandish.

But! And! Futhermore! I have fallen head over heels in love with ‘Martje/Mat-cha”. I love it! Elyze and Annika and Martje. The problem though, is that people are going to say Mart-jee. Even I, and I consider myself a name snob and pretty well-versed in names, thought it was going to be Mart-ye. Like the end of Kanye. But I LOVE LOVE LOVE this name.   So.

You are faced with the Gaelic dilemma. Do you change the spelling of the name, for your daughter’s ease of use and to prevent a gorgeous name from falling out of favour – in fact, do you re-invigorate it and increase it’s potential of becoming a new classic – or would that ruin the whole point of the name, and to suggest such is sacrilege, and you know that the thing to do is to stick with it as is or not at all? 

In this case, I have to say my vote is for the phonetic spelling, because I have fallen HARD for this name. Matcha. I love it. Matje, even. (Don’t do that. I’m not Dutch, but I know that the same principles apply there as anywhere – spelling something “a little bit creatively” is still worse than abandoning the spelling altogether). 

The other thing is remembering that no matter how hard the name is in English, people will adjust. We’ve been able to understand how to pronounce Hugh and Siobhan, so I’m not sure Martje is that much of a stretch.

Let me know!