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Old 02-01-2013, 12:08 AM   #1
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Icelandic girl in legal fight for her name

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21280101

Just saw this and found it interesting. I had no idea that some countries actually have rules about names for children.

Not just Iceland but also Germany and Denmark, according to the article.
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Old 02-01-2013, 12:22 AM   #2
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I can understand some extremes at which regulating names can feel like a good idea. Children called things like Moon Unit, for example. But I can't help but feel icky about the apparent requirement that names for girls be "sufficiently feminine" and, presumably, names for boys "sufficiently masculine". Glad Blaer got to use her name in the end.
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Old 02-01-2013, 12:36 AM   #3
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I sort of understand a small country wanting to keep a certain ethnic purity to their names -- I mean Iceland still uses the father's name appended with son or dottir for the last name. But having less than 2000 approved girl names seems very restrictive.

I'm surprised they just don't hand out "The Official Icelandic Baby Name Book" to all expectant mothers.
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Old 02-01-2013, 12:42 AM   #4
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France has a law like this. It's not as struct, but so vague it gives the judge a lot of power. Basically you can't name your child anything that the court rules would be "contrary to the child's interest." There was a case in 2011 where a couple wanted to name their son "Daemon" which is obviously an alternate spelling of "Damon" and were reported by a civil servant. The name was ultimately denied (because of the devil or something) and I guess he's just another Matthieu now.

But with the stricter laws, they feel awfully ethnocentric. I suppose they consider it part of assimilating once you are a citizen. Eh.
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Old 02-01-2013, 12:48 AM   #5
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Well, Daemon is pronounced Demon.

Blaer calqued into English is Blower. I don't know if there is any double entendre in Icelandic with Bla.
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:03 AM   #6
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It means 'light breeze'.
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:12 AM   #7
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Well, Daemon is pronounced Demon.

Blaer calqued into English is Blower. I don't know if there is any double entendre in Icelandic with Bla.
Depends on the language, doesn't it?

Either way, as a name you can dictate how it's pronounced. That's why my sister's name has a silent 'J'
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:18 AM   #8
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Depends on the language, doesn't it?
Not really. The homophones demon and daemon are pretty much congruent among the western Indo-European languages as far as I can tell.
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:24 AM   #9
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Not really.
"Daemon" in French is not pronounced the way "demon" is pronounced in English. That's what I meant.

They were naming him after a character on a TV show and altered the spelling to make it phonetically correct in French.
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:25 AM   #10
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I thought the 'ae' comes from Greek?
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:29 AM   #11
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I thought the 'ae' comes from Greek?
They both come from Greek. Daimon (letter-swap here) refers to the lesser gods or spirits. Demon and daemon come from that word.
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:30 AM   #12
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From Wikipedia, re: their Prime Minister:

In 2010, after her government banned strip clubs, paying for nudity in restaurants, and other means of employers profiting from employees' nudity, Jóhanna said "The Nordic countries are leading the way on women's equality, recognizing women as equal citizens rather than commodities for sale."[35] After the decision was made she was hailed by her fellow feminists with Julie Bindel claiming Iceland has become the most feminist country in the world.[36]

...Feminist does not = "not a sufficiently feminine name". Sheesh.

Edited to clarify: I am more fascinated by the growing pains of the culture than irritated.
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:33 AM   #13
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Hold on... hold on.... That line comes from the article. Let's not conflate two seperate things. The idea of a 'feminine name' may not mean what you think it means.
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:33 AM   #14
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I thought the 'ae' comes from Greek?
Doesn't really have anything to do with how it's pronounced in another language.
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Old 02-01-2013, 02:20 AM   #15
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I get royally pissed over parents who name their kids names which are obviously either some sort of a joke (Talulah Does The Hula From Hawaii Johnson),or the result of a bad night of drinking (Reefer Head O'Connor), or a byproduct of a bizarre and entirely personal media obsession (ESPN Stevenson), or worst of all a twisted political statement (Adolf Hitler Campbell). [Some of the previous surnames I invented. But all of the first names, and their accompanying links, are entirely real.]

But I also think that the "Baby Name Nazi's" need to get a grip from time to time. The names "Ivory" and "Light Breeze" just don't rock my balls off the way "Adolf Hitler Campbell" does.

Just my opinion.
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Old 02-01-2013, 07:28 AM   #16
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Very restrictive rules regarding baby names creep me out, especially if one of the rules is that you can't use androgynous or unisex names.
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Old 02-01-2013, 08:09 AM   #17
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I very much agree with DancienMaenid. Also, name restrictions like this just seem to be overreach of the government which I'm sure has better things to do with its time.
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Old 02-01-2013, 08:25 AM   #18
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From what I have read, most countries have some sort of limits on what you can name your child. America is the odd-man out on this for not having limits to protect the dignity of children with regards to baby names.
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Old 02-01-2013, 08:37 AM   #19
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I very much agree with DancienMaenid. Also, name restrictions like this just seem to be overreach of the government which I'm sure has better things to do with its time.
While Iceland's laws do seem unnecessarily strict, I do think that it is important to protect children from bad parents who give them ludicrous names that will most assuredly damage them in the long term. I mean, could you imagine having to go to school with a name like Osama bin Laden, Lucifer, or Judas. There's no need to set a kid up for that kind of torture.
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Old 02-01-2013, 08:42 AM   #20
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From what I have read, most countries have some sort of limits on what you can name your child. America is the odd-man out on this for not having limits to protect the dignity of children with regards to baby names.
Infants don't have "dignity." But I think if the laws were really about the children, they'd just allow children to petition to have their names changed if they were unhappy or felt they were being bullied because of it.
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Old 02-01-2013, 08:44 AM   #21
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I used to work in a department that processed paperwork for legal name changes. To an extent a little restriction is a good thing. In the US you can't name your child anything derogatory (mainly swear words) and you can't have a number in the name.

In the 4 years I worked in that department I saw at least 3 people change their name to 'Nobody' and several other names you would just shake your head at and wonder why parents would do that to a child.

Its good to see that girl fighting to have her name. Blaer is rather pretty, IMO, and the definition seems suitable for a lady. If a name isn't derogatory or going to bring potential embarassment and unwanted negative attention to the person then name away. If you try to name your kid Crap Bucket (sorry, was watching Friends earlier) then you should try living with that name for a few years yourself and experience the treatment you plan to inflict on someone else.

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Old 02-01-2013, 10:05 AM   #22
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Very restrictive rules regarding baby names creep me out, especially if one of the rules is that you can't use androgynous or unisex names.
There aren't any unisex names in Icelandic. I think the problem here was that all nouns have a gender and the word blær/light breeze is in fact masculine. I don't know the right words to explain it in english, but if I were talking about a light breeze to an Icelander I would refer to it as "he".
So the issue isn't quite as ridiculous as it seems, but they can't very well expect her to change her name after 15 years.
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Old 02-01-2013, 11:52 AM   #23
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Infants don't have "dignity." But I think if the laws were really about the children, they'd just allow children to petition to have their names changed if they were unhappy or felt they were being bullied because of it.
But by the time you're an adult, the worst is usually over, you're used to the name and the reactions, and most people probably just give up and go along. It is, by that time, the name they're known by.
And as a child, it's pretty hard to petition without your parents' assistance, and why would they give the child a name if they didn't think the name was okay, even desireable?
Awkward, very awkward. And if a child is intelligent enough to know how to petition for a name-change, they're intelligent enough to imagine what that awkwardness in their home would feel like. For years.

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I sort of understand a small country wanting to keep a certain ethnic purity to their names -- I mean Iceland still uses the father's name appended with son or dottir for the last name. But having less than 2000 approved girl names seems very restrictive.

I'm surprised they just don't hand out "The Official Icelandic Baby Name Book" to all expectant mothers.
I googled the list, because I couldn't even think of 2000 girls' names without getting really obscure. The list seems pretty reasonable, lots of choices. Many very Icelandic, but a range of 'basic European' and others.
Not as exotic as some North American name choices maybe, but we're catering to a wide range of national origins and ethnic groups.
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Old 02-01-2013, 10:51 PM   #24
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There aren't any unisex names in Icelandic. I think the problem here was that all nouns have a gender and the word blær/light breeze is in fact masculine. I don't know the right words to explain it in english, but if I were talking about a light breeze to an Icelander I would refer to it as "he".
So the issue isn't quite as ridiculous as it seems, but they can't very well expect her to change her name after 15 years.
The thing is, though, is that by mandating that all girls have "feminine" names and all boys have "masculine" names, the government is essentially deciding children's gender expressions for them, as well. In this case, the child in question is simply a girl with a masculine name. But what if parents of a trans child wanted to give their kid a new name that would allow them to pass socially as their identified gender? And what names should intersex infants be "allowed" to have?

That's what makes me uncomfortable. The law seems to take for granted that all children "should" have names that match the gender they're assigned at birth, and that gender is a static thing.
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Old 02-01-2013, 11:27 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by efreysson View Post
There aren't any unisex names in Icelandic. I think the problem here was that all nouns have a gender and the word blær/light breeze is in fact masculine. I don't know the right words to explain it in english, but if I were talking about a light breeze to an Icelander I would refer to it as "he".
So the issue isn't quite as ridiculous as it seems, but they can't very well expect her to change her name after 15 years.
Is there a way to make a gendered noun into a neutral noun? Like say Bjork => Bjorking (-ing in (Old) English designates a descendant but does not specify whether it is a son or daughter. See: Reading, Hasting.)
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