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Pronouncing Xanthe in other accents

(19 Posts)
GreekBearingGifts Wed 08-Mar-17 12:21:34

Hi all, Xanthe is high on the list for DD2. We have a wide range of European friends and family and are likely to relocate for work in Europe at some point too.

Being British, we would pronounce it "Zan-thee". If you are French, Dutch, German or Spanish, can you tell me how you'd say it? We love it, but I don't want the surprise of a totally different pronunciation from the extended family which happens with my name and isn't annoying at all... or to find it simply doesn't work somewhere else in the world.

Thanks for your help!

TheFirie Thu 09-Mar-17 01:21:20

In French : Ksant (the same as Xavier for the first part and ANT as in tante)

in Spanish , more or less like your English pronunciation

In German, again more a ks sound for the X and a stronger "e" so Ksante

GreekBearingGifts Tue 14-Mar-17 13:14:19

Oh thanks, TheFirie that's really helpful.

Assuming you are one of these nationalities, do you think Xanthe 'works' when not pronounced 'Zanthee'? Or is it clunky/sounding like another word (I am now wondering if it sounds a bit like 'sante' or 'gesundheit' if misheard in a French accent...?

My in laws and extended family insist on pronouncing names in the way they are said in their country (so for example Helene, pronounced by it's owner as 'Hel-enne' will always be said as 'Helen-uh' as a final 'e' is pronounced as an 'uh' in their accent). I get why they do it as it's the "right" way of saying things in their experience, but intensely annoying when it sound like a totally different name to your own or that of your child...

I'm therefore torn between loving Xanthe and using it, or going for something else that has a very similar pronunciation across languages.

user1487519954 Tue 14-Mar-17 13:45:02

In Dutch it'd be something like "sarntuh"

GreekBearingGifts Tue 14-Mar-17 13:59:12

Gah - so we'd potentially have a Ksant, and a Sarntuh, neither of which sound anything like the British pronunciation.

Could we insist on it being said as 'Zan-thee', by correcting people, or is it better to let it go and find another name...?

Any suggestions on lovely, classic but unusual names that work across European languages?!

Rockaby Tue 14-Mar-17 14:16:12

This was a consideration for DH and me when we were deciding what to name DD. We wanted something which would 'travel' well, if that makes sense.

Any of these float your boat?


GreekBearingGifts Tue 14-Mar-17 14:24:05

Thanks Rockaby. Sofia is our kind of thing. Our other kids have quite strong names (think Felix, Cordelia, Gabriel type) so we'd also like to make sure the name fits (suddenly going for an Evie for example, however cute, would sound a bit jarring).

Now I'm stuck...

MollyHuaCha Tue 14-Mar-17 14:30:06

I like Xanthe :-)

Rockaby Tue 14-Mar-17 14:32:46

It's tough OP! We are in a similar position in terms of family having different accents and always having it in our minds that we could end up in a totally different continent in our case, due to work. We ended up choosing a name which was recognisable in lots of languages, easy to spell and pronounce over some of the lovely, unusual names which I also really fancied.

That said, if Xanthe is the only name you love, then just use it. People will learn how to say it, or will give her a shorter nickname. It's only two syllables smile! And in the U.K. people will know it, so if that's the place you are most likely to be then go for it.

grufallosfriend Tue 14-Mar-17 14:33:13

A German speaker would struggle with the 'th' sound and Xanthe would indeed become Ksanteh. I don't think the name travels well, sorry.

YesItsMeIDontCare Tue 14-Mar-17 14:37:44

I knew a Xanthe, the French teacher could only ever call her Zonsee and even struggled with that. To be fair the teacher always apologised.

But the name is lovely.

ChippieBeanAndHorro Tue 14-Mar-17 17:02:02

In my own accent
it Ksunn-te.

A pretty harsh ks (or x) sound. the "unn" sounds like sun but with a slightly more pronounced nn. A strong T and an e like "egg" in the end. Or maybe an e like in air.

I speak a version of German, btw.

saltyshoes Tue 14-Mar-17 17:04:45

Anything with an 'x' isn't going to travel well especially at the beginning of the name.

vitaminC Tue 14-Mar-17 17:09:09

I'm French and in French it would be more like Kzont.
I doubt anyone would manage to pronounce it anything like the English pronunciation though, I'm afraid.

ProfYaffle Tue 14-Mar-17 17:11:20

We have a Xanthe and some French friends. They really struggle, best we can get in Zontee though they mostly avoid it by using a nick name instead.

ChippieBeanAndHorro Tue 14-Mar-17 17:12:50

Names that work well in various European countries? As somebody that is now looking for such a name for the 2nd time I can post our list(s), not sure if you'd like any...:


Some of these obviously have different pronunciations in different countries. But in our opinion they still travelled pretty well (at least in Europe)

Jamhandprints Tue 14-Mar-17 17:20:54

Spanish would probably be "santay".

TheFirie Tue 14-Mar-17 18:38:13

Assuming you are one of these nationalities, do you think Xanthe 'works' when not pronounced 'Zanthee'? Or is it clunky/sounding like another word (I am now wondering if it sounds a bit like 'sante' or 'gesundheit' if misheard in a French accent...?

You wouldn't have the same sound as "sante´" because you don't have an accent. So the final e would either be very soft almost mute or on the contrary longer with an eu sound.

I am French from Luxembourg so speak several European languages and I have lived in Spain, Italy, .... this is a name I would struggle to pronounce unless someone guides me n how to say it.

Here in Australia, they struggle to say my name (Italian name), and I am fed up of spelling it whenever I want a coffee, after a couple of tries I have an official "coffee name" , Isabel . Some will add the double LLE, but that's the name everyone gets whatever the nationality of the person serving me. .

So you should stay away from letters such as
X completely unheard of in Italy and pronounced K in many country
C a CE suc as Beatrice will have a CH sound in Italy
TH tricky tricky!!

I teach ethics and the roll call at the beginning of the lessons is full of corrections from the children for the first lessons . And I am mortified every time, so I often ask for a volunteer to do the roll call.

user1487519954 Thu 16-Mar-17 17:20:58

Haha my name is Rebecca (half Dutch) (changed username for this post)
My parents apparently considered Joanna but the J would be pronounced like a Y in Dutch and my mum didn't like it!
Incidentally I go by "Becky" here, but it would be a bit rude to call someone that in Dutch ("bek" means an animal's mouth), so people there tend to shorten it to "Rebec".

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