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The source of my interest is likely obvious. The name itself is much more common in Belgium than in Netherlands though my ancestry on that side is from Schiedam, outside Rotterdam. I include German as well as Dutch because we believe that an ancestor moved to South Holland from Stuttgart in the mid 16th century.

Of course growing up the obvious similarity of the name to the gherkins pickle was too obvious to be missed. The question is whether that resemblance is or is not coincidental.

Pronunciation of the initial syllable of the name in Schiedam, where my father and his father grew up, is done with a long-e sound and with the "G" rolled far back in the throat, so soft as to almost be an "H" sound. The mouth is open moderately wide in an oval shape and the tongue pushed forward. I'm not a linguist by any means, but managed to master this sound in my 30's. This information perhaps will assist in filtering some of the possible etymology.

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    I think an origin from the given names Gerg, Georg or even Gerhard, with the diminutive -ken is more likely. Scan de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gurke#Wortherkunft for origins of the German word "Gurke" and historical use of other words in southern Germany. Regional surname reference books may be more definitive. – bgwiehle Dec 18 '18 at 23:22
  • @bgwiehle: Thank you. You have prompted me to add some pronunciation details, as in Schiedam where my father and Opa grew up, as best as I managed to master it through my Canadian accent.. – Pieter Geerkens Dec 18 '18 at 23:30
  • In Schiedam, as in all of the Netherlands above the Rhine, the “g” is not at all soft. It’s a hard guttural sound, similar to the “j” in Spain and the “ch” in Jiddish. So unless your family is from Braband or Belgium, the name would not be pronounced with a soft “g”. – user8782 Dec 19 '18 at 2:54
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(1) The name Geerkens in Belgium can mainly be found in Limburg, the province near Netherlands and Germany. See https://familienaam.be/Geerkens

(2) The Marcel Vervloet site (http://home.scarlet.be/~tsd22610/) gives as etymology : Geerken(s), Geercken, Gier(c)ken, Geertjes, Giergen, Gerckens, Gerrekens, Gerken(s), -kes, Gertgen, Girckens, Girkes, Gerke(nne), Geraket, Gerkinet, Gere(c)ke(ns), Gehr(ec)ke, Guercke Patroniem uit Geerlin, d.i. een afgeleide van een Germaanse ger-naam.

i.e. derivative from German name in ger-

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