How to pronounce Slavic female names….or an easy way to surprise your Ukrainian girlfriend

Psychologists say that the most favorite word a person likes to hear is his/her own name. It is also been proven that our names affect our personalities and that people with the same name have similar personalities. But if your beloved is from a culture different than yours, her name will probably sound odd to you or you might even have problem with its spelling and pronunciation. To make it easier for you we have made a list of some ( but not all) female names that are being often used in Ukraine. For your convenience we give you a name itself, its pronunciation, origin and short, informal forms of it that are normally used by friends and family members.

Anastasia ah-na-stah-SEE-yah, Greek anástatsis ‘resurrection.’
Nastya, Nastenka, Nastyusha, Nastasya

Alexandra ah-lyek-SAN-drah, Feminine form of Alexander. Greek alexein ‘protector of men.
Sasha, Sashenka, Sashka, Shura, Shurochka
Alla AHL-la, One suggestion is that it is a short form of Alexandra. Another that it is < Greek alla ‘other’, possibly by extension ‘the only one.’

Anna AHN-nah, Greek form of < Hebrew hannāh ‘gracious.’ Probably associated by tradition with most Russians (and hence its spread) with the mother of the Virgin Mary.
Anya, Annushka, Anyuta,

Daria DAHR-yah, Greek dareîos from the name of the Persian King Darius.
Dasha, Dashenka, Dashechka, Dashunya

Ekaterina yeh-ka-tyeh-REE-nah, Russian form < Greek. Clear etymology not known. However, the name has been associated by folk-etymology with the Greek katheros, ‘pure.’ 4th century saint of this name martyred in Alexandria.
Katya, Katerina, Katyushka, Katyusha,Katenka

Elena, Yelena, Helena yeh-LYEH-nah , Greek (h)élen, daughter of Zeus, meaning Greek, educated’ by extension ‘the bright one, the shining one.’ Associated with St. Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine.
Lena, Lenochka, Lenok, Lenchik,Yelenushka

Elizaveta yeh-lee-zah-VYEH-tah, Hebrew elisheva ‘God is my oath.’ Bible, the wife of Aaron, the high priest. New Testament, mother of John the Baptist.

Lizok, Lizochka Liza

Eugenia yehv-GYEH-nee-yah, Greek ‘well+ genēs ‘born.’ Name of a 4th century missionary bishop.
Zhenya, Zhenka, Zhenechka

Galina gah-LEE-nah, Uncertain origin. One interpretation is that it is a form of Elena. Another is that it is from the Greek galéne ‘calm’.
Galochka, Galenka, Galyushka,Galchonok

Inna(Ina) EEN-nah
Innochka, Innoulya, Innoulenka, Inusya, Inok,Innessa

Irina(Irene) eeh-REE-nah , Greek eirēnē ‘peace.’ Name of several saints in the Orthodox Church.
Ira, Irinka, Irishka, Irinchik, Irinochka, Irunchik,Irisha

Yulia(Julie) YOO-lee-ah, Latin, Roman clan name.
Yulenka, Yulka, Yulchik

Ksenia KSYAY-nyah, Greek xenia ‘hospitality.’
Ksyusha, Ksyushka, Ksyushenka

Larisa lah-REE-sah, Origin not clear. Name of a Greek martyr venerated by the Orthodox Church.

Lilia LEEH-lyah, Latin lilium ‘lily’.
Lilechka, Lilya

Lolita lah-LEE-tah, Short form of Dolores < Spanish cognate, ‘sorrows’, one of the titles of the Virgin Mary.
Lola (Lolitochka)

Ludmila lyud-MEE-lah, Old Slavonic lud ‘people’ + mila ‘love, grace’ = ‘loved by people.’
Lyuda, Mila, Milochka, Lyusya,Lyudochka

Lyubov lyoo-BAWV, ‘love.’
Lyuba,Lyubonka, Lyubasha, Lyubochka

Margarita mar-gah-REE-tah, Greek margaron ‘pearl’.
Rita, Margaritka, Ritochka,Ritulya

Maria ) mah-REE-yah, Russian form of Mary < Hebrew Miryām, meaning uncertain. New Testament, mother of Jesus
Masha, Mashenka, Mashusha, Mashunya

Marina mah-REE-nah, Possibly derived from Latin Marius. Another widely held view is that it means ‘of the sea.’ Possible popularity of this name in Russia may be the influence of Princess Marina of Greece.
Marisha, Marinochka, Marishka

Nadezhda nah-DYEZH-dah, ‘hope.’
Nadia,Nadenka, Nadyusha, Nadyushka

Natalia nah-TAL-yah, Late Latin < Natālia < natālis diēs ‘birthday of the Lord’, i.e., Christmas.
Natashenka, Natshechka, Natusenka, Natusik,Natasha

Nina NEE-nah
Ninochka, Ninok, Ninulya, Ninushka
Oksana ahk-SAH-nah, Greek xenia ‘hospitality’
Oksanochka,Ksyusha, Ksyushenka, Ksana

Olga AWL-gah, Russian feminine equivalent of Oleg. But, unlike Oleg was approved by the Orthodox Church because of St. Olga of Kiev, a 10th century saint.
Olya,Olenka, Olyushka

Polina pah-LEE-nah, Form of Latin paulus
Polya, Polinka

Roza RAW-zah, Latin rōsā ‘rose’

Sophia saw-FEE-yah, Greek sophós ‘wisdom.’
Sonya, Sonechka, Sophochka

Svetlana sveht-LAH-nah, Slavonic translation of the Greek phōtiné ‘light.’
Sveta,Svetochka, Svetlanka, Svetik

Tamara tah-MAH-rah, Russian form of the Hebrew Tāmārā ‘date palm tree.’
Toma, Tomochka, Tamarka

Tatyana tah-TYAH-nah, Latin Tātiānus, an old Roman family name. Meaning uncertain.
Tanechka,Tanyushenka, Tanyusha, Tanyushka

Valentina vah-lyehn-TEE-nah, Latin valens ‘healthy. Name of a 3rd century Roman martyr.
Valya,Valyusha, Valyushka, Valenka, Valechka

Valeria vah-LYEHR-yah, Latin valere ‘to be strong’, a Roman clan name.
Lera, Lerchik, Lerunchik, Lerusia, Lerok, Lerunia

Vera vyeh-RAH, ‘faith.

Veronika(Veronica) vyeh-RAH-nee-kah, Meaning not clear. One view is that it < Late Latin veraiconica ‘true image’ < verus ‘true’ + iconicus ‘image.’

Victoria veek-TAW-ryah, Latin victor ‘conqueror.’

Zhanna ZHAHN-nah, Russian form of the French Jeanne, feminine form of Jean [John] < Latin < Greek < Hebrew yōchānān ‘God is gracious.’
Ganna, Janna, Jhanna

Zoya ZAW-yah, Greek zóē ‘life.’
Zoja, Zoia

Now you are probably wondering what you can do with all this information. Well, the answer is simple - Don’t just read the names - learn them, learn short informal forms and USE them with your Ukrainian girlfriends and friends. It is up to you if you want to whisper in her ear in private, write it on the flower card when you send flowers to her or may be to use it in your letters. Just be sure it will give your message a more personalized intimate touch and we are sure any Ukrainian girl will appreciate!

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