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Thread: Naming laws - what do you think?
February 10th, 2014 08:14 AM #1Senior Member
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Naming laws - what do you think?
I suspect that most people who don't live with naming laws find them inherently bizarre/dictatorial. But what are your thoughts on this?
I live in Iceland where there are certain rules about what people can and can't name their children. For the most part, people happily choose names off the official list of approved names (there are loads of names on the list), but if they want to use something not on the list it has to meet certain conditions:
1. It has to be able to decline in the genitive case in accordance with Icelandic grammar or to have gained tradition in the Icelandic language.
2. It must not violate the structure of the Icelandic language.
3. It must be written in accordance with Icelandic orthography, unless there is an existing tradition for another spelling.
4. It must not be something that could cause the child suffering.
5. Girls can only be given female names and boys only male names. (I know of two names that are technically allowed for both men and women, although in reality I think one is only used for girls, and one is overwhelmingly used for boys - maybe there are more examples, though.)
The committee that allows or rejects names has all sorts of rules by which they decide, for example, whether there is in fact a tradition for a certain name or spelling in Iceland. I think most names suggested to the Naming Committee are put onto the list, although not all. Special rules for foreigners are:
If one of the parents is, or has been, a citizen of another country, they can use one given name and/or one middle name from their own culture, regardless of the rules for Icelanders. However, the child must have at least one given name that does comply with the rules. So immigrants really have more freedom than "pure" Icelanders in this. Used to be a lot worse, though, foreigners gaining Icelandic citizenship used to be required to change their name to an Icelandic one!
I actually quite like it that there are certain limits, although I think ultimately the whole thing is too full of logical oddities to survive. One thing I particularly like is that there are one or two recognised spellings for each name, and you can't mess around with that. The effective ban on unisex names sort of makes more sense if you understand how important grammar is here, I think. Your name is not an unchanging set of letters like it is in English. Tómas, for example could be Tómas, Tómasi or Tómasar depending on what grammatical role he is playing. Örn is sometimes Erni or Arnar. Anna is Önnu unless she's in the nominative. There are patterns for masculine and feminine nouns, and a unisex name would have to have two different patterns. I don't know, it's probably possible. A fully unisex name is very, very unlikely in any case because hardly anyone has a family name here; instead people have a patrynomic or a matrynomic that identifies them as a son or a daughter.
Some people already complain about the restrictions here. What do you think, would you feel uncomfortable living in a place with these kinds of rules?
February 10th, 2014 08:36 AM #3
After seeing some birth announcements, I would be fine with having some sort of naming laws in the US (and I'm majorly against big government). I've seen enough Natahleighs and Hudsynns.♥ My Loves ♥
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February 10th, 2014 08:49 AM #5
I don't think restrictions are necessarily wrong. Sometimes people just need to be reigned in, and honestly, it can benefit the child if the parents aren't allowed to name them whatever they so please.
I've got Bosnian roots, but I live in the US. In my culture, if you want to name your kid something with a "Y," then you've got to use a "J" instead. Don't like it? Pick a name without it, then. Also, it's almost mandatory to give your female child a name that ends in "-a." The only exceptions I can think of are Iman & Ines.
I, personally, am going to "follow" the rules. I love the name Anya, but I'm going to spell it Anja to honor my culture. I've had to cut a lot of names off the list because they don't go with the rules, but I'm happy to do so if it means reflecting my culture on my child.June 13th, 2015💞 the day I married the love of my life 💞
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February 10th, 2014 09:18 AM #7
I was born in Germany which has naming laws as well. When my mom was born in 1972, my grandma wanted to name her Olympia (she was born during the Munich Olympics Opening Ceremony), but she feared it wouldn't be an approved name. My mom is now Corinna Olympia, and Olympia has become a family middle name.
I really think naming laws are a good thing. Some of the names I've seen given are pretty terrible and I really feel some parents don't give too much thought to the name of their child. At least if there were naming laws, they could just pick a random name of the list and it wouldn't be a Braidyn or a Stryker!
February 10th, 2014 09:35 AM #9
In Germany we also have naming laws, however, they're not as strict.
There's no list you have to choose from, however if a name is too weird you have to prove that the name is legitimate and used somewhere in the world.
Parents have the right to make up their own name but it has to be approved. Something like Violena might get approved while Erikantasona won't.
A male name can't be used for a girl and vise versa unless it's unisex like Luca or Kim.
It can't be offensive, a brand name (unless it's a real name like Milka or Mercedes but nor Persil) or too weird.
If the people who have to approve of the name think the name will be a major problem for the person to live with, they won't approve it.
I kind of like our naming laws because they make sure that certain names won't be used on actually human beings but give the parents enough freedom to choose a unique and special name for their child.
Last edited by opheliaflora; February 10th, 2014 at 09:40 AM.
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