Reykjavik, Iceland – Imagine living in a country where, if your birth name was not on a list of government approved appellations, you’d simply be without a name or have to get it approved by a committee.
Countries such as Sweden, Denmark, Germany, New Zealand, Japan, and Iceland have strict rules regarding what you can and cannot name your newborn and or how names and surnames are assigned. These more strict on the name counties adhere to a Personal Names Register, which follows a code of grammar and pronunciation rules geared towards protecting children from lifelong embarrassment.
In Sweden, a 1982 naming law was initially created to prevent non-noble families from using noble names. It’s been amended to restrict the use of offensive, unsuitable first names. Unapproved names included Metallica and Elvis. Lego was okayed.
In Germany, you must be able to distinguish gender and cannot use last names as first names. In Denmark, you have to petition for special permission from your church in order to deviate from a national list of 7,000 names. This also includes pre-approval for creative spellings of common names.
In the US, you can name your offspring anything you like up to and including symbols like Le-a, pronounced Le dash ah. Web searches for actual US names from sites like Ancestry.com and the US Census Bureau generated names like Bread White, Dinner Ware, Mayo Head, Cook Cook, Al Coholic, and a few unfortunate twin pairings like X and Y and This One and That One.
Given names are especially significant in Iceland. Surnames are based on a parent’s given name, and everyone is listed in the phonebook by their first name. Males and females in Iceland are provided a list of roughly 2,000 names for each gender division. If a name isn’t listed, it must be taken before a committee and reviewed for approval. Names with the letter “c” are rejected based on there being an absence of “c” as part of Iceland’s 32-letter alphabet.
According to Yahoo News, this is the case for a 15-year-old from girl from Iceland. Blaer, which translates to “light breeze” in Icelandic, is having to sue her country in order to be recognized by name and not just as girl. Blaer Bjarkardottir is being identified as “Stulka” meaning “girl” on all official documentation. This makes anything financial or bureaucratic arduous to deal with. Picture the potential pitfalls of applying for a passport.
ABC News reports, that Blaer’s mother, Bjork Eidsdottir, was unaware that her daughter’s name wasn’t on the approved register. It was only after a priest, baptizing her child, informed her. In 1973, Blaer’s name had been accepted but later turned down due to its masculine intonation. Her mother is hoping that will change with her suit. This will be the first time someone has challenged a names committee decision in court.
[Photo Credit: Associated Press]