How to pronounce my last name

That’s a tricky one! In Russian, желна́ [ʐel-nah], is one of the names for the black woodpecker, Dryocopus Martius. One of my ancestors, probably, was either very talkative or persistent, that’s why he got the nickname (pure speculation here!). All his offspring were referred to as “zhelnin,” meaning “of Zhelna.”

Zhelnina?

[ʐel-nee-nah]

The emphasis is on the first syllable; the first letter sounds something like the middle in “leisure” or “vision.” The rest of the syllables sound like the name “Nina,” but without emphasis.

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