Natalie or Natalia?

Hello,  our baby girl is due in just a couple of days!   We have it narrowed down to either Natalie or Natalia.  We like Natalia, but have some misgivings about possible undesired pronunciation problems.   

 Here's my do you pronounce Natalia?  ( I'm trying to see if pronunciation issues will be a problem ot not? )    Do you say "Na-TAL-yuh"  (Russian pronunciation) or Na-TAL-ee-uh"?   (Spanish/Italian pronunciation)    (both have accent on the second sylable "TAL".  The difference is in the endings....either "yuh" or "ee-uh" Thanks!


June 19, 2018 6:03 AM

A name that is three-or-less syllables like Natalie is far more likely to remain intact.  Once you get into 4 or more syllables, it's long and nicknames will creep in.  So my question is: do you WANT your daughter to be called by her full name or not?  f so, go with Natalie.  If you kinda like nicknames like Nat, Ali, Lia, etc then Natalia it is.

I would also assume Russian pronounciation, i.e., nat-AH-lee-ya.


June 19, 2018 6:44 AM

As someone who is named Natalie, I can 100% guarantee that having one less syllable than Natalia has not prevented me from being called by a nickname.

My name is also often mis-pronounced as Natalia, even though I have the E at the end instead of the A. I think both are fine variations of the same meaning depending on which cultural influence you like.

My recommendation is to compare both with the flow of the middle name you're considering (mine is Natalie Shea, and I think Natalia Shea would not have the same ring to it) as well as the last name, as initials aren't at play here.

I also don't recall seeing many Natalia options on pre-personalized items such as keychains, magnets, etc compared to the places where I've found Natalie, but nowadays there are a lot more avenues to get things personalized with any name such as Etsy, so that may or may not be a factor for you.

Hope this helps =)

June 19, 2018 8:12 AM

I do have to agree with that....some of my favorite names (Gabriela, Francesca, Victoria) I've already crossed off my list because I felt they would surely get shortened to undesirable nicknames, but I know lots of 3 syllable names like Lydia that don't get shortened.  I tend to not like nicknames.   I prefer the whole name. So on that count probably Natalie would be a better choice.

What do you think about putting Natalia on the birth certificate and just using "Natalie"?   Natalia kind of goes better with our spanish surname, but I am thinking I might be happier calling her Natalie because of the shortening and pronunciation issues with Natalia?  (I really do not like the Na-Tal-yuh pronunciation, and it seems quite a few Americans do tend to pronounce it like that)  

June 19, 2018 8:15 PM

That sounds confusing. I know that occasionally Sophia will be called Sophy, and Julia called Julie, but being off by one small ending syllable sounds like it will lead to complications.


FWIW, the only child Natalie I know has a very Spanish surname.

June 19, 2018 7:30 AM

I would say it as 4 syllables with a clear "ee-uh" at the end. My daughter's name ends with -lia and where I live, the vast majority of people separate it into lee-uh (like, only 2 people in our lives say -yuh), but this particular issue is rather localised and in some places most people will say -yuh.

But there are also variations in the TAL syllable that would personally bother me more than the yuh vs. ee-uh which is that if you're in the States, you'll have people saying nah-TALL-yuh and nah-TALL-ee-uh, too. Tall like the opposite of short. 

June 19, 2018 11:31 AM

The TALL thing would also be more of an annoyance for me than the -yuh thing.

I would say it with 4 syllables and an ee-a ending, but then I'm in Spain...

June 19, 2018 2:34 PM

This^^ the middle being said TALL would bother me more than the end being said -yuh too, I feel like the difference between yuh and ee-uh is fairly subtle so that you would hardly notice in everyday conversation but TALL vs TAL would definitely stand out to me.

I would also say it as 4 syllables ending ee-ah, but I'm in the UK and the only (Polish) Natalia I know says it that way. I would think that the pronunciations you get are likely to depend on where you live, although there will certainly be some corrections needed wherever you are. If you really really don't want to have to correct people then Natalie is probably the safer choice (bearing in mind that practically no name is "correction free" these days). I slightly prefer Natalia to Natalie and don't think the slight variations would be a big deal but the question is would it drive you mad? Your daughter is likely to learn her attitude to people making a 'mistake' from you so if you can respond in a relaxed manner then it will likely not be a source of aggravation to her. 

You could also try the coffee shop test with Natalia (give it as your name in places where it doesn't matter) and see how people react to it said the way you want (do they mishear it as Natalie, do they say it "correctly" when saying it back to you etc) to get an idea what it would be like to live with. 

June 19, 2018 6:50 PM

You may think that the difference between -yuh and -ee-uh is subtle, but I can tell you from experience that if you're a person who tends to notice the details in how people pronounce things and/or if it's a distinction that's important to you -- and it clearly is to the OP -- then it's really not that subtle. When someone says the -yuh ending on my daughter's name, I notice it. I really, really notice it. I also notice those who say it as 1.5 syllables instead of 2, but those don't bother me in the same way. I never correct people who say -yuh so I don't know if it's something that my daughter will notice or care about later on. Actually, no, knowing my daughter, she'll notice and possibly already does notice, but hopefully it won't bother her and my non-response is a good model.

June 19, 2018 9:01 PM

I cannot even hear a difference between this TAL and TALL syllable... and I definitely run together ee-ah endings into -yah sometimes, too. Sorry, Natalias of the world! I swear I think that I'm repeating the name as the Eastern European Natalia who married into my distant family introduced herself! 

June 20, 2018 2:56 PM

TAL would be like the beginning of talent, or talisman. TALL would be the opposite of short.

June 20, 2018 2:54 PM

I really notice when people make my daughter's name shorter too. We clearly say Joo-lee-eht, but my FIL says Jool-yet, and it drives me insane. He recorded one of those electronic books for her, the ones that read to her in his voice. I cringe everytime she opens it, because it begins, "To Jool-yet..."

June 19, 2018 11:14 AM

My name is Julia, and I can attest that there are people who can't tell the difference between -ee-ah and -yah. I say /JEW-lee-ah/, they say /JEWL-yah/, and they honestly think that they said it exactly the same way.

The other consideration, as Karyn pointed out, is the /a/ sounds in the first two syllables. In Natalie, the first one is clearly æ (ash), and the second one is ə (schwa), for basically all Americans (and probably for almost all English speakers, really), but in Natalia there's more variability: the first /a/, being unstressed, will be schwa-like for most English speakers, but the second one can be ash, or one of the cot~caught sounds, or for people sufficiently influenced by a non-English language, the front open unrounded vowel [a] (the first part of the diphthongs in "mouse" and "mice"). It's very individual whether this variation bothers you or not: some people hardly notice, others find it grating.

Because of the difference in stress patterns, I don't think people are likely to mistake the names for each other in speech, nor are they likely to auto-nickname Natalia to Natalie (unlike how some people seem to have a mental block that I'm Julia, not Julie). Regardless of which one you choose, there will likely be some mistakes in writing, especially if Natalia continues to be relatively more popular than it used to be. (NameVoyager indicates that Natalia has basically plateaued in the last decade, while Natalie has fallen slightly in usage from its circa 2010 peak.)

Toss a coin, and see how the outcome makes you feel?

By mk
June 19, 2018 1:26 PM

"Na-TAL-yuh" because the Natalias I know are Russian/Eastern European and that is how they introduced themselves to me. If someone introduced me as "Na-TAL-ee-uh" I'd use that. But depending on a person's background (reigonal accent, language) it can be easier to use certain pronuciations over others. I tend to just roll with it, personally.

June 19, 2018 4:36 PM

My default woudl be Na-TAL-yuh.  I group it with other ia/yuh ending names like Amelia (ah-meel-yuh) and Cordelia (cor-deel-yuh).  I also once knew a Talia (Tal-yuh) so that probably influences me a bit.

However, if you prefer the Na-Tal-ee-uh, I think it would be a fairly easy correction for me to make.  It'd simply be a matter of mentally moving the name from "like Amelia/Cordelia" to "like Julia/Demetria" which I always say with the "ee-ah" end.

June 19, 2018 6:52 PM

But how would you be at moving Cordelia to the Julia category? ;)

June 20, 2018 10:57 AM

I would be horrible at it, just as I would really struggle moving Julia to the Amelia category.  The more familiar I am with a name, the harder it would be for me to change.  I've never actually known a Natalia IRL, so I think it would be easier for me to switch my default for it.  I've known several Amelias, one Demetria, and several Julias, so those are pretty much hardwired (no Cordelias IRL, but I did have an older relative named Delia who was alwayed called deal-yuh or deal-ee).

June 19, 2018 5:36 PM

I prefer Natalia over Natalie, as it feels more sophisticated.


I think I would say it nuh-TAHL-ee-ah, but I might blend the final two syllables together a bit and I could see that the second syllable could sometimes come out as tal... this is a name where I think the possible pronunciations are similar and interchangeable to the point that it wouldn't bother me if people said it a little differently.  It's not as drastic as something like LOO-shah being called loo-SEE-ah.


In a vacuum, I dislike Nat.  However, I find myself using it at times for a young Natalie I know (and others do also).  In real life, it just comes across as an affectionate shortening.

June 20, 2018 12:53 AM

Thanks for all the great feedback.  It seems from what everyone says that I probably could get most people to say my preferred pronunciation for Natalia.   I'm still torn though.   I wonder in practicality if my family and I would be willing to say that 4 syllable name every day?   I'm not crazy about nicknames which makes me think about Natalie again.   3 syllables doesn't seem cumbersomely long.   What do you think about this idea since I can't decide.......   Would it be a bad idea to use Natalia on the birth certificate and end up using Natalie as a nickname if Natalia ends up being problematic?  (I am not crazy about any of the other nicknames, Nat, Naty, Tali, Talia etc) 

June 20, 2018 1:49 AM

I think that four syllables are not that difficult to impose. My daughter has a far heftier four syllable name where the syllables are less liquid than Natalia and thus they can't smoosh together to become a three-syllable name - you cannot avoid any one fo the four syllables. Right now she's using the full name almost exclusively, and no one has tried to abbreviate it, to my surprise. The only people who use a nickname are we parents, and we picked it because we like it. Nicknaming by default is at an automatic low right now; there are a lot of other kids with long names who use the whole thing, so most people won't bat an eye at it. 

The only people who might have trouble with it are the very young. My 1-year-old went through a phase of just saying the last two syllables of his sister's name as he was learning to talk, but he's just made it to the full name before his second birthday. So you can expect Talia or Yaya or something to come out of a future younger sibling for a while, but otherwise, I think that four syllables is a reasonable expectation, especially when they flow as smoothly as Natalia. That said I think many people think they're saying ee-ah but will actually say -yah in practice some of the time, and if that bothers you, Natalie would be a better fit. 

June 20, 2018 4:23 AM

I agree that at the moment people are more used to multi-syllable names that are not shortened so I think you would be OK providing you are happy with Natalia and so is your child.  I know plenty of Natalies and they all get nicknamed frequently (which they are OK with) so I don't think it's nickname proof.  Most get called Nat or Nattie, although do go by their full names a fair bit.

I default to your preferred pronunciation with Natalia but it does seem to be vary variable with the 'ia' ending names. I'm considering Cordelia should I be having a girl and it's something I should think about more as I don't particularly care for the 'yuh' ending.

June 20, 2018 5:27 PM

All the comments are so helpful. Here's one more question I would love feedback on to get to my final conclusion. It seems a lot of people prefer Natalia to Natalie because it seems more unique and exotic and Natalie is more common,   but considering my sibset,  which name fits the best or would either one work equally? My other children's names are Shanna, Jonathan and Lucas. Does Natalia sound too exotic and over the top to blend with the other names?  Our surname is Orellano. Which would you choose and why?    

By EVie
June 20, 2018 6:49 PM

I actually prefer Natalie on all counts. With your surname, the extra unstressed vowel at the end of Natalia makes the whole thing harder to say: ee-ah-oh, that's three unstressed vowels in a row (I come down on the four-syllable pronunciation of Natalia, though I think if I were speaking fast it could slur into "yah" at the end). I also just like the rhythm of Natalie better with your surname. And because I find it more sweet and friendly and approachable, which I think is a better fit with your generally down-to-earth sibset.

June 20, 2018 7:45 PM

I like both, but with the sibset Natalie and your surname,  I think the extra syllable is a little too much

June 24, 2018 7:48 PM

Thanks for all the wonderful feedback.   I think it helped me see that I won't use Natalia because I just don't like how half of Americans say "Nuh-TAL-yuh" and can't seem to hear the difference.   It changes it into a totally different name for me.  Also,  Natalie does seem to flow better with our surname.   Thanks!

June 26, 2018 12:47 AM

Ok,  so just one more question!.....I thought I had come to a conclusion, but deciding is really hard!  Natalie seems to work better for me in practicality, avoiding pronunciation problems etc.    I'm just wondering in general what impression you have of the name Natalie?    I realize Natalie is much more common than Natalia and has been in use longer in the U.S., but does Natalie sound dated......stuck in the 80s like Ashley, Melissa, Whitney etc or would you still consider it a good choice for 2018?

By EVie
June 26, 2018 10:20 AM

I find it pretty timeless, at least over the last 40 years. I'll also note that most of the Natalies I've known have been very, very smart people (the valedictorian of my huge high school full of high acheivers was one of them). So the name has a really nice balance of serious/mature/respectable and sweet/friendly/approachable to me. It is a pretty unassuming name, though—I would picture a Natalie as the quiet kid that everyone likes but doesn't draw attention to herself, not the charismatic diva that everyone fawns over. 

When my son was a baby, there was a mom/baby pair in my mothers' group named Lydia and Natalie. I had a really hard time remembering which one was which, because both those names sound natural to me on either generation. (I think Natalie was the baby).

June 26, 2018 11:00 AM

I noticed on this website that the name Natalie peaked at popularity at #13 which is very popular in 2008 (10 years ago) and has been steadily falling ever since.   I worry that this could leave it feeling time stamped.     Would love more feedback.  


June 26, 2018 12:37 PM

I think Natalia is more likely to eventually sound dated than Natalie, not as a specific name, but as part of the modern trend for international forms of names instead of the traditional English ones. But I also think the whole concept of "datedness" is dated: names are too diverse nowadays for individual names to be tied to any particular time. Unless Natalie completely falls off the chart, which it is highly unlikely to do, the name will not pinpoint a time period any more specific than "probably born after 1960-ish" -- which will be true of most of the population, thirty or forty years from now.

June 27, 2018 12:27 AM

I definitely don't lump it in the same category as Melissa, Amanda, Whitney etc.  While it's not 'on trend' it's not as specifically linked to any one time period. I know Natalies between 5 and 45!