What does the name Sonke mean?
The name Sonke is an old one, dating back to the time before Napoleon Bonaparte forced upon the people to carry a familyname in the occupied countries (1811). The Sonkes made up a name themselves. This name finds its origin in the Germanic languages. In the early middleages we find names like Hadubrant Hiltibrantes Sunu which means Hadubrant the son of Hiltibrantes or Johan Rolovingssoen or Janne Rembrechtssone. Sunu, soen and sone are words for son (in Dutch zoon).
The Frisians, who lived in Zeeland for a long time and who spoke a Germanic language, often used a diminutive at the end of their Christian name like ’ke’, for instance as in Eelke and Rinske.
So we do think our name Sonke is a diminutive of the Germanic word sunu, soen, sone which therefore means little son. So you can understand why in Germany the name Sonke is also a Christian name.
Now we have to move one step farther. In the Dutch language we have patronymic names like Michiel Adriaanszoon de Ruyter, which means Michiel, son of Adriaan or Adriaan’s son. The name Adriaanszoon is often abbreviated and becomes Adriaanse. So, there is a Pieterse, who is the son of Pieter and so on. We think that our family name became to be like this in the following way: Sonke is the son of Sonke, also Sonke Sonkeszoon, abbreviated into Sonkesz, to Sonkes and finally Sonke. So therefore it also means the son of little son.
In the past names were not always written in the same way. At the archives we found our familyname written in various ways, like Sonke, Sonk, Soncke, Sonck, Soenke, Zoenke.
Furthermore you can find: Van Sonck, Sonken, Soncken, Sonkes, Sonks, Seunke, Seuntjens, Söhnke, Sönksen, etc. etc.
In the South-African language Xhosa a word ’sonke’ exists, which does not relate to our familyname. In that language sonke means all together.
At the Western Cape you will find Ikhaja lethu sonke, which means home for all. A Union for women is called Sikhula sonke, which means We grow together.