I’ve written several posts about names, as the choice of names is important when writing a story… and I have a fascination for names I admit!

My eye was caught by this article in the Daily telegraph today:

Icelandic teenager sues state for right to use her name

A 15-year-old girl is suing Iceland for the right to legally use the name given to her by her mother but not allowed as it is not on a list approved by the government.

Like a handful of other countries, including Germany and Denmark,Iceland has official rules about what a baby can be named. Iceland’s personal Names Register contains 1,712 male names and 1,853 female names that fit grammar and pronunciation rules. Officials maintain it will protect children from embarrassment. Parents can either take from the list or apply to a special committee that has the power to approve it.

Blaer, which means “light breeze” in Icelandic, is identified as “Stulka”, or “girl” on all her official documents, which has led to years of frustration with the country’s bureaucracy. Her mother learned the name was not on the register only after the priest who baptised the child later informed her he had mistakenly allowed it.

“I had no idea that the name wasn’t on the list, the famous list of names that you can choose from,” said Bjork Eidsdottir, adding she knew a Blaer whose name was accepted in 1973.

The panel turned it down on the grounds that the word Blaer takes a masculine article, despite the fact that it was used for a female character in a novel by Iceland’s revered Nobel Prize-winning author Halldor Laxness. She says she is prepared to take her case to the country’s Supreme Court if a court does not overturn the commission decision on later this month.

“So many strange names have been allowed, which makes this even more frustrating because Blaer is a perfectly Icelandic name,” she said. “It seems like a basic human right to be able to name your child what you want, especially if it doesn’t harm your child in any way.”

Though the law has become more relaxed in recent years – with the name Elvis permitted, for example – choices like Cara, Carolina, Cesil, and Christa have been rejected outright because the letter “c” is not part of Iceland’s 32-letter alphabet.

“The law is pretty straightforward so in many cases it’s clearly going to be a yes or a no,” said Agusta Thorbergsdottir, the head of the committee, a panel of three people appointed by the government to a four-year term.

2 thoughts on “Icelandic names

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