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‘When I came up with the names for my children, these things were important to me’

‘When I came up with the names for my children, these things were important to me’

Ellen is a counselor in secondary special education, a thriller author at publisher De Fontein, mother of Lewis and Miles (11 and 8) from a previous relationship and recently gave birth to daughter Sophia with her boyfriend Nils.



What are your children’s names and are you still satisfied with that (after so many years)? And are you satisfied with your own name?

So my name is Ellen, and I’m probably saying sorry to all the women in this country named Ellen (or parents who just named their daughter Ellen), but I think it’s a hopelessly old-fashioned name. Before Miles was born I bought a name book (on Curacao, so the name book was American) and there was Ellen in the list of names under the heading: sitting on the porch in the 50s. In other words: a name for housewives in the 1950s who sit on the porch all day. In the rocking chair for sure, too. One such name is Ellen. I didn’t like it much, but that stamp was extra unfortunate.

Few options

I know that my parents really did their best to find something beautiful. Just like my sisters and I, my parents are educators and then you know a trillion names, 99% of which you will not / cannot use for your own children. Usually there is a memory of that name. If I can believe my mother, the Ellen who was once in her class was a nice girl, with red hair and freckles. My father continued with the name Linda (and sorry, Linda’s in the country), but I’m still glad it didn’t end up as Linda. My mother came with Karlijn (sorry to all Karlijns), but I didn’t think that was such a winner either. All right, Ellen, I’ll have to deal with it. I would have liked Elle better.

International name

What is an advantage of the name Ellen is that it is a fairly international name. I have traveled quite a lot and it is pronounced everywhere. My dear sisters Niki and Lotte (by the way, I think those names are much nicer than Ellen), have it a bit more difficult in that respect. Niki becomes Nikki and Lotte becomes Loddie in English. Of course, for many people it is not at all important whether a name can be pronounced abroad, but it can be taken into account in the choice.

Ellen is also a name that rhymes with many words. Now I was not bullied in the past, so not with my name either, but bullying because of a name is unfortunately common. Most heard jokes in my case: Ellen loves frikandellen. Ellen has snot bubbles. Riots with Ellen. Well, say fierce. Then Ruth and Puck have a harder time these days. On the other hand; kids always find a stupid reason to bully. If it’s not your name, then it’s something else.

Read also: Ellen about baby layette: ‘It’s actually bizarre that such a tiny person needs so much stuff’

Baby name conditions

When I came up with the names for my children (along with my partners, of course), a few things were important to me.

  1. No top 10 name. To each his own, of course, but for me this was one no go. I wanted something original or at least a name you don’t hear three times in one class.
  2. It must match the surname and the succeeding child also had to match the previous one in terms of name. With Lewis I had taken a fairly complicated path, because look for something that suits Lewis. I think we succeeded in doing that with Miles. Lewis and Koos sounds different.
  3. It must be easy to pronounce. And that’s where I went a little wrong, I’m afraid. When we first sat at the consultation office, Lewis was called Leeuwis and Miles is regularly called Mels or Maïs. Well, the defect lies with the other, shall we say. Sophia is easier then.

Choice was made quickly

If I had been a boy, my name would have been Bas. Both my boys had been called Olivia if they were a girl (so I wouldn’t choose that anymore, because: top 10 name and a song from … I have to look it up … ) and Nils had been called Anne if the girl was. My sisters had been called Paul and Carel. That’s one thing, those names. I would have really felt sorry for Lotte if she had been named after my dear dad, however beautiful the idea is. We didn’t have a boy’s name for Sophia yet, we weren’t that far yet. We knew immediately that we both liked Sophia, so from 14 weeks pregnant her name was already fixed. Timeless, international, it suits Lewis and Miles and it is original. I don’t know a single Sophia and the class lists of the boys’ primary school didn’t include a single Sophia. Still nice. It’s nice that we figured it out quickly, because choosing a name is quite complicated.

Satisfied with your name

This week I sent out a poll on Instagram and Facebook. Are you satisfied with your name? 87% are satisfied with his or her name (including two Ellens), 5% say No, just no. 3% has been bullied with his or her name and 5% does not like his or her name because it cannot be pronounced in other languages.

So, parents-to-be, know what you’re choosing for your child!

Oh yes, the song Olivia is from Antoon. I thought Lil Kleine or Nielson. Something like that. Apparently I’m getting old. I sit on my rocking chair on the porch. Bye!

More Ellen? Follow her on Instagram. You read her previous columns here back.

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