“What kind of name is Imke anyway?” 

People won’t be shocked to hear that I am confronted with this question on a regular basis, so I figure I’ll just drop a little name/family history right here.  

Imke (2 syll. im-ka, imk-a) is a German name.  My mother is German and I am quite proud to be named after her sister, my Tante (aunt) Imke.  This side of my family is from a small fishing community at the northern most part of Germany, called Neuharlingersiel.  It’s a beautiful coastal town and I was lucky enough to visit many times growing up.  

Do I speak German?  Ein bisschen.  Enough to get by, but certainly not enough to be considered fluent.  My entire life, conversations between me and my German family involved them speaking to me in German and me responding in English.  We all seemed to agree that this arrangement kept our conversations flowing more smoothly, so we never really messed with it. 

I do like to cook German foods (I make a pretty delectable Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte) and love a good cup of Ostfriesen black tea.  

There you have it.  A little background about my name and my family history.  

I’ll wrap this up with one request – when you meet someone with a foreign name, avoid asking them, “what kind of name is that?”  It makes it sound like maybe we’ve caught some kind of weird disease or something.  Ask instead, “what is the origin of your name?” or even “what nationality is your name?”  You’ll sound more polite and the person you’re speaking with will likely feel more inclined to share some information with you.  Trust me … I know this from experience.