Category: baby name rules
You would think that living in a country with restrictions concerning names could make your baby name choices a lot more difficult. Sure, we don’t have to stick to Portuguese names and we can use a large number of beautiful, international, eclectic names like Noah, Giovanni, Ingrid, Siena or even Suri, but dealing with a law that defines which names and spellings are and are not approved can be very frustrating.
You may like Kevin, for example, but you have to use Kevim; yet weirdly, Katie and Kelly are approved. And in addition there is the rule that specifies that your first name must indicate your gender. Ariel, Ruby and Zoé are adorable, but they are considered masculine names in Portugal, so they can only be used as girls’ middle names. A little bit confusing, right?
Imagine that you were put in charge of names.
Effective immediately, you are the recorder of all given names, and no newborn’s birth certificate is official until it has received your stamp of approval.
After a giddy moment or two – think of all the names you’ll see! – reality sets in. Will you impose rules? What will the rules be? Would you establish an official list of approved names? Guidelines? Is there an appeals process?
In the US and much of the world, we tend to respect the parents’ right to choose a child’s name, even if that name raises a few eyebrows. Case in point: the baby briefly known as Martin McCullough has now been restored to his birth name, Messiah
By now, you’ve almost certainly heard about Blaer Bjarkardottir.
She’s just won the legal right to use her name. Fifteen years ago, Blaer’s mom unknowingly gave her daughter a name that does not appear on the official list of 1,853 names permitted for baby girls in Iceland. The mistake was discovered only after Blaer’s baptism.
A Nobel Prize-winning novelist had used the name for a female character. Plus, Blaer’s mom knew another woman with the name – it’s where she got the idea in the first place.
It turns out that even in a country with official lists, things can be a little bit fuzzy.
There are no official lists in the U.S., but plenty of us might like to impose them.
Trouble is, even if there were rules at a given moment, they’re always subject to change. What was true in 1960 – or 1860 – won’t hold in 2013.
This brings us to a great quote from Swistle: “Names, like colors and toys, are given to male/female babies according to fashion, not according to stone tablets.”
Watch out, Berries–today’s guest blogger, Claire Shefchik, has plenty of bones to pick!
Since the age of six, I’ve loved names. Back then, whenever I renamed myself, I was Crystal (spelled Christal) and later, Jordan. These days, I prefer Presley to Penelope, Jayden to Jasper. In the novel I’m writing, two of the main characters are Dempsey and Vaughan–female characters. Eek! That’s right, I am a name heretic.
When, a few years ago, I came across the Nameberry-led community of Internet naming enthusiasts, I thought I’d found heaven (sorry, “nevaeh”). But I found myself, more often than not, at odds with my fellow “name nerds.” Many claim to be open-minded and liberal, but are much more rigid in their approach to naming than you’d think, especially when it comes to names popular with, as one poster put it, “the Wal-Mart set.” Another poster declared her goal was to encourage “classically-named babies,” which let’s face it, is just a euphemism for “babies with names of which I, as the self-appointed arbiter of taste, approve.”