Icelandic Teenager Sues For Right To Use Name Given To Her By Mother

567px-Coat_of_arms_of_Iceland.svgThere is an interesting case out of Reykjavik, Iceland where a 15-year-old girl is suing Iceland for the right to legally use the name that her mother gave her and the name that she prefers. While most Americans would be outraged, Iceland is one of the countries that requires all names of children to come from an approved government list. Since Blaer (Icelandic for “light breeze” is not on the approved list) she cannot go by the name given to her.

As with Germany and Denmark, Iceland regulates names — something that most Americans view as an inherently individual right and choice. Parents must choose from 1,712 male names and 1,853 female names to protect children from embarrassment. Parents can petition a special committee for the right to use an unapproved list. Clearly, this is not a country that Frank Zappa and his children Dweezil Zappa, Moon Unit Zappa, Ahmet Zappa, and Diva Zappa would find particularly hospitable.

Blaer’s parents were informed by a priest that she should not have been baptized due to her unapproved name and the special committee refused to make an exception because it takes a masculine article. Her family argued that this ignores the fact that the name was used for a female character in a novel by Iceland’s revered Nobel Prize-winning author Halldor Laxness. Thus, Blaer is an Icelandic name — just not a name approved by the government.

We have seen such controversies arise in in this country with children, for example, named after Adolph Hitler. However, this remains a protected right of parents. Indeed, parents have been known to given children a name from an opposite gender to instill character . . .

57 thoughts on “Icelandic Teenager Sues For Right To Use Name Given To Her By Mother

  1. The worst thing about this story… I’d like to think I am well read and know quite a bit about this or that. I did not know about Germany and Iceland having approved-name lists.

    Oh well, guess I won’t be on Jeopardy any time soon, or even 20 years. No rest for the weary.

  2. wonder what happens if parents come up with an Icelandic name from history, that had already died out BEFORE the government made up its list… the Icelanders have some really… interesting… ideas about the purity of THEIR version of their language.

  3. Names. Any of you use first initial, middle name, last name? You’re going to get anything from “that’s not your legal name” (as if my birth certificate is first name, middle initial, last name), to “you’re attempting to defraud”, or the one not defeatable, “the government requires it”. Nothing anywhere in law says first name, middle initial, last name is your legal name; once government databases were set on FN, MI, and LN, that became the only allowable legal name. It’s a fight everytime.

    I sent a mortgage lender back to revise all his documents because I refused to sign FN, MI, LN. Of course, I was left with FN, MN, and LN, not FI, MN, LN. Something about the government not knowing who I am if not FN, MN, LN, but they would know me if FN, MI, LN. But the rest of society knows me as FI, MN, LN. Even my business cards showed it.

    I’ve been using FI, MN, LM, on all documents from 1969 – 1970, with exception of military but they allowed FN, MN, LN without hassle. I got a clue in the early 90s when the IRS contacted me because they were unable to connect my name to my SSN. They couldn’t tie names to SSN unless they were FN, MI, LN. All my tax statements prior were FI, MN, LN. I still send all documents to the IRS as FI, MN, LN. I did have to write a nasty explanatory letter on how they didn’t understand birth certificates, didn’t know law, and were narrow-minded bureaucratic bigots. They take my money and SS acknowledges it. I’m not sure I won.

  4. Morning-after thoughts on WW2, etc.
    OT but not at all really.

    I can imagine that what gave reason to the provision of a strict list of names in Iceland was the influences of WW2. And oddly it was due to the popularity of the presence of the American troops with “certain” segments of the population, ie the female segment above all.
    I could and would like to explain that phenomena deeper but the facts first.

    The icelanders being similar to all Nordic countries in their free views on premarital and extramarital sex was thus open to contact with “romantic and different” Americans. We all realize the attraction a uniform has on females (men?), and most attractive are foreign uniforms which stick out.
    If they besides come with new culture and small gifts like butter and coffee from the PX, then all the better. As a consequence many liasons were made, many births occurred, and many Clarks and Betties were introduced, shocking the older ones who were raised to defend their culture, particularly from Danish dominance which owned Greenland as a colony and also Iceland.

    Now cultural defenses are seen, both official and unofficial around the world.
    America and Sweden have not been leaders in opening up, but they do, and each in his own way has done it rapidly, Sweden now has a foreign pop. around 10-15 percent, counting all the ones born here.
    And the hispanics in USA, welcome or not, have culínary-wise at least become popular.

    You know, we Americans are always eager to show we each are “special”, being hip, but not too far from the norms, speaking generally. Myself, I had “wheat-colored” jeans in 1952, and went on being different; for ex double hulled catamaran boat instead of a single hulled conventional one.

    Now Germany is a special case. Just think if we had done the same thing during our reconstruction period. Would have had many conflicts with the North’s own naming traditions; and what would we do today without our southern belles with names like Betty Anne, Norma Jean. Double names regarded as always to be used when speaking to and of somenone. Not having and using a doubled first name was regarded as being trashy. Or was it the opposite???

  5. Regulation-loving Deutschland has an entire department (the Standesamt) which decides if names are suitable.

    The Standesamt is simply the public registrar in the local town hall which marriages people and issues certificates of birth and of death and other such things. And while issuing birth certificates they may refuse the name if it’s “harmful to the child.”

    One can argue that this is an area which is actually (contrary to stereotypes) not very well regulated in Germany, because there are no lists (unlike the Scandinavian practice) or even laws, just some fuzzy guidelines laid down in state (and therefore not uniform) administrative decrees.
    That is exactly why there are so many lawsuits fought over it, and why these seems to be no rhyme nor reason behind it (“whereas the similarly strange […] were allowed”)…

    Miatt was rejected because it didn’t clearly show whether the child was a boy or a girl

    That article must be quite old, because the parents of little Kiran won 2008 before the Federal Constitutional Court, which ruled that registrars could not refuse names because they don’t show gender.

  6. Never was good at reading latin. And don’t know what child book it comes from. Not one oj Pippi Longstockings. Long tale, hmmm. Ha, freudian slip. Long TAIL, it should have been.

  7. Malisha,

    That is the same as italiano, capice. Te amo, for example Your words need clarifying to me, like everything else nowadays.

    Besides I had no use for Latin except occasional word roots since studying when I was 13–14 in high school. Between getting suspended at 13 and several times since, my education is spotty.

    There I go self-deprecating and apologizig again. Must stop it, Answer briefly, kindly and pithily. You do that with some exceptions for anger outbursts which seem motivated.

    I’ll don’t have you on a pedestal. You are fine because you ARE
    And that includes all here too.

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