August 21, 2017

Weird and banned Dutch names

Filed under: General,Weird by Orangemaster @ 9:27 pm

Many Dutch names sound or look odd to people who can’t read the names in Dutch or have never heard them before like Joke (usually for girls), Freek (usually for boys) and Puk (unisex), but they are are quite normal.

However, some of the names that have been banned in the Netherlands since 1970 when the weed wore off when French law implemented by Napoleon in 1811 was applied, meant children had ancient names or names from the Holy Calendar.

Odd names:
– Dienaar van God (‘Servant of God’), banned in 2013.
– Jeanne d’Arc (banned in 1945 and again in 2009, but approved by an Amsterdam Court in 2010)
– TomTom (presented in Venray in 1999, but approved later on)
Geisha (presented in Groningen around 1985, but approved in 1990)
– Miracle of Love (approved Amsterdam 30 juni 1998, became Miracle-of-love)

Names that bureaucrats eventually accepted:

– Fleur de Mariage (French for ‘Flower of Marriage)
– Urine (as a female form of Uranus)

Names that were banned before 1970:
– Denis, became Dennis
– Pascale, the female version of Pascal, was eventually accepted.
– Other ‘normal’ sounding names like ‘Kitty’, ‘Willy’, ‘Loraine’, ‘Joey’ and ‘Savanna’
– A whole bunch of Dutch surnames that cannot be used as a first name

(Link: , Photo of Crying baby by Chalky Lives, some rights reserved)


October 18, 2014

Ms ‘Hen the Rooster’ new chicken boss of the Netherlands

Filed under: Animals,Weird by Branko Collin @ 1:20 pm

chicken-branko-collinStarting next year Ms Hennie de Haan will become the new chairperson of the Poultry Farmers’ Union of the Netherlands, Telegraaf reports.

In itself this is not interesting news, but if you understand Dutch you’ll realise her name means ‘Hen the Rooster’. Never was there a poultry farmers’ union’s chairperson with a more fitting name, I imagine.

Ms De Haan told AD that she hadn’t even noticed the funny pairing at first: “Well, I’ve had this name for 45 years now. You don’t often stop to contemplate your own name. My partner had to point out [how remarkable this is]. […] Usually chicken farming is discussed in terms of the environment and the treatment of animals. If my name causes a smile […] I consider that a bonus.”

A popular go-to person for the Dutch press whenever a plane threatens to fall out of the sky is the former chairperson of the Association of Dutch Commercial Pilots, Benno Baksteen, whose last name means ‘brick’.

Every year popular radio DJs Coen & Sander collect the funniest names they can find and crown one of them the ‘shame name’ of the year. Two weeks ago that award went to Wil Helmes, which sounds like the title of the Dutch anthem, ‘Wilhelmus’. Number 2 was Ben Bouten, which means ‘off to poo’. Third place went to Leen Kleingeld, which means ‘borrow small change’.

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September 27, 2014

Crisis of the Wims, a boy’s name in decline

Filed under: History by Branko Collin @ 8:30 pm

wThe name Wim is as Dutch as it gets, but how long will it remain in use? A 2009 booklet called Lang Leve Wim (Long Live Wim) by linguist Wim (!) Daniëls sounds the alarm.

I haven’t read the book myself, but one review quotes what appears to be the introduction: “In the past few years only a couple of Wims have been born. The peak for the name Wim was between 1950 and 1960 in the Netherlands and between 1970 and 1980 in Flanders.”

The Meertens Institute says there are still a good number of Wims walking around the country. Based on census data the institute estimates there are still about 3,500 men called Wim in the Netherlands, or 0.05% of the population. Sociale Verzekeringsbank (SVB), the agency responsible for child support, says 13 baby boys were named Wim in 2013. That is definitely more than the ‘couple’ Daniëls speaks of, but not a chink in the armour of the top five of boys’ names in the Netherlands for 2013, Sem, Levi, Bram, Daan and Finn, which were given to sons more than 700 times each.

The situation is not as bad however as Wim Daniëls says. He has to use a trick to uphold his disaster story of dewimmification. As Bill is the short version of William in English, so is Wim the short version of Willem in Dutch. In 2013, again according to SVB, 264 boys were called Willem, and with a king bearing the same name I estimate the likeliness of that number to drop by much is low. Which, in the end, I think is a good thing. As Daniëls says, what would a world be without Wimmen?

(Link: Holly Moors)

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June 8, 2014

Dutch nicknames for cars

Filed under: Automobiles by Branko Collin @ 9:59 pm


Here is a short list of car nicknames the Dutch and Flemish use.

  • Kever (beetle): Volkswagen (1938)
  • Kattenrug (cat’s back): Volvo PV444/PV544 (1944)
  • Eend and Lelijke Eend (duck and ugly duckling, the Netherlands): Citroën 2CV (1948)
  • Geit (goat, Belgium): Citroën 2CV
  • Snoek (pike) and Strijkijzer (clothes iron): Citroën DS (1955)
  • Rugzakje (backpack, the Netherlands): Fiat 500 (1957)
  • Bolleke (ball, Belgium): Fiat 500

Note that the car later officially branded as Volkswagen Beetle used to start out as simply Volkswagen.

I’ve ordered the nicknames by the year the car was introduced. As you can see, there appears to have been a sort of golden age of nicknames in the two decades following the Second World War.

I’ve tried Googling for more nicknames with the inevitable result of ending up on car blogs where the bloggers asked their readers if they knew more than the usual suspects. The readers would then comment that “the X is also called Y” while curiously omitting the phrase “in my family”. German and English lists can be found on the web.

(Photo by Klugschnacker, some rights reserved)

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December 13, 2013

Doodstil prettiest place name of the Netherlands

Filed under: Weird by Branko Collin @ 12:08 pm

doodstil-gouwenaarIn 2005 a man called Ben Schattenberg organised a poll for the most beautiful town name in the Netherlands.

After a round of nominations voters could send an e-mail to say which one of four names was their favourite:

  • Doodstil (literally deathly silent, but in fact Doede’s bridge).
  • Muggenbeet (mosquito bite).
  • Waterlandkerkje (water land church).
  • ‘s-Hertogenbosch (the duke’s forest).

I am not sure how many people participated in the poll (half-way the voting period 5,447 votes had been counted) or how often the poll was held, but it did end up in this sign proclaiming the town’s pride (“de mooiste plaatsnaam van Nederland” means ‘the most beautiful town name of the Netherlands’). According to the town with 100 inhabitants celebrated the election at the time with a barbecue in the garden of the Knol family.

(Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Gouwenaar who dedicated it to the public domain; link:

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January 14, 2013

Emma and Daan popular Dutch baby names in 2012

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 8:29 am

For the second year running, the names Emma (girls) and Daan (boys) have been the most popular names given to newborns in the Netherlands.

Popular girls’ names were Emma, Sophie, Julia, Anna and Lisa.

Popular boys’ names were Daan, Bram, Sem, Lucas and Milan.

The Telegraaf got these lists from Sociale Verzekeringsbank (SVB), which manages child support in the Netherlands. Last year 86,000 girls and 90,000 boys were born in the Netherlands.

(Photo: Queen Emma as a girl in 1870 by an unknown photographer)

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August 12, 2011

A short guide to Venloish given names, with translations in Dutch, English, German and French

Filed under: History by Branko Collin @ 12:50 pm

Slow news day, so I thought I’d try something different. Here is a list of (short form) given names from my city of birth, Venlo, and their translations into Dutch, English, German and French, where possible.

Dutch Venloish English / German / French
Jan (jAn) Sjeng (sjeN) John / Jan* / Jean
Bert (bErt) Baer (beIr) Bert / ? / Albert
Geert (xeIrt) Sjraar (sjrAr) ** ? / ? / Gérard
Sjaak (sjAk) Sjaak Jack / ? / Jacques
Ton (tQn) Twan (twAn) Tony*** / ? / Tony
? Hay (hɑI) ? / ? / ?
Marieke (mAri:k@ Merieke (m@ri:k@) Mary / ? / Marie
Theo (teIjQ) Thei (tei) Theo / Theo / Théo

Pronunciations between parentheses. I used the SAMPA alphabet for readability. Like IPA it’s a phonetic alphabet, but unlike IPA it only uses Latin symbols). I used the SAMPA English phonetic alphabet though, so the pronunciations listed here are the closest approximations—in my humble opinion. But note, for instance, that ‘a’ (as in Jan) and ‘aa’ (as in Sjaak) have completely different pronounciations in Dutch. (In Dutch long vowels are typically spelled with a double letter, and short vowels with a single letter. Exceptions abound.)

Other Limburgish dialects may use the same names as Venloish, or have wildly differing variants. The Dutch word for the short form of a given name is roepnaam by the way. I have no idea of its etymology, and it could mean either ‘handy version of a name for shouting’ or ‘name one is known by’.

Any additions and corrections are welcome.

*) Recent or regional.
**) If this were Dutch it woud mean “shush, crazy”.
***) From Italian Antonio.

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December 6, 2010

Transgender man wins battle to get name changed on university diploma

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 8:41 am

Justus Eisfeld won the right to get a new bul, a master’s degree diploma, Parool reported last Wednesday. Eisfeld had undergone a sex change, which required a name change, but the University of Amsterdam refused to issue a new diploma to reflect this new reality.

Minister for Education, Culture and Science Marja van Bijsterveld (one of only three women in the cabinet) has decreed that the university’s official stance, which stated that it is illegal to issue a new diploma, is incorrect. The University of Amsterdam has responded that it is now “very happy” to issue Justus Eisfeld a new document.

An added complication may be that it is generally difficult in civil law countries (i.e. non-Anglophone countries) to have one’s name changed at all. How does this work for our native English speaking readers? If you change your name from John Smith to Autocar Bumblebee III (as you all do!), does that mean you get to rewrite the paper trail?

(Photo by Hildo Krop, some rights reserved)

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October 31, 2009

United Nude shoes open store in Amsterdam

Filed under: Architecture,Dutch first,Fashion by Branko Collin @ 11:24 am

United Nude, the design agency run by shoe designer Galahad JD Clark and architect Rem Koolhaas has expanded its on-line shoe store with an off-line version on the Spuistraat in Amsterdam. No, that is not the Rem Koolhaas, it is Rem D. Koolhaas, his cousin.

Koolhaas told De Pers it took six years to open a bricks and mortar store because only now is the collection big enough. Also, the crisis made the rent right.

(Via: Bright. Photo: United Nude.)

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October 25, 2009

Fokje Modder elected ‘shame name’ of 2009

Filed under: Weird by Branko Collin @ 2:55 pm

Radio DJs Coen Swijnenberg (‘swine mountain’) and Sander Lantinga (wholly unremarkable name) have elected their ‘shame name’ for 2009: Fokje Modder.

Fokje had to fight other strong contestants like Constant Lam (‘continuously drunk’), Wil Krikke (‘wants to have sex’), and Englishman Ben Brack (‘have a hangover’) in an involuntary election of the oddest name of the country.

According to NOS Headlines, Fokje (pronounced fok ye) has never been troubled by her name, but she has never been abroad either.

Considering the amount of Fokjes whose last names end in -(e)ma, I would guess the name stems from Groningen.

Last year’s winner was Stanley Messie (‘small Stanley knife’).

Lantinga and Swijnenberg occupy the 4 – 7 pm slot on popular music channel 3FM.

(Photo by Flickr user Thelearnr, some rights reserved.)

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