There 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 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 . . .