Girl wins right to name

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

An Icelandic girl named Blaer Bjarkardottir has won the right to use the name given to her by her mother after it being rejected by the government, which has strict rules on names based on gender, pronunciation and grammar. Blaer, which means 'light breeze', was rejected as it was considered too masculine for a girl. I assume that her name is pronounced the same way the English name 'Blair' is pronounced and to me that's fine as a girl's name, though it is a unisex name which breaks the gender rules.

Just so I'm not picking on Iceland there are plenty of other examples of countries with rules regarding names. Portugal has a massive list of allowed and banned names, In Sweden the authorities must approve both first and last names and most other Scandinavian countries have similar rules.

Should governments be allowed to intervene in the naming of your children? Picking a name for your child is often a very personal and difficult choice (for most people), to have a government official come in and decide if your choice is valid or not almost invalidates that very personal decision. For example Carolina is not allowed in Iceland as the letter 'c' is not part of their alphabet; what if you had emigrated to Iceland from a country where it was acceptable and you wanted to name your child after a close relative with that name?

That's not to say that parents should be given free reign when naming children. If you try naming your child 'Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii' or 'Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116' (pronounced 'Albin'... somehow) then someone needs to step in and say no. However those are extreme examples (and one's actually a protest against Sweden's naming laws) and for the vast majority of names that are not completely insane I don't think it's right for a government to create arbitrary rules on what is and isn't acceptable for a name.

tl;dr: Should officials have a say in what you name your child?

Well yeah, they should. But only to prevent idiots from naming their kids idiotic things, which does happen, like you pointed out.

This is probably just an example where such laws also intervene with a name which was genuinely chosen.

The government should stop you from the blindingly stupid or inane names (Hitler, Espn, Hashtag, K-A which is pronounced Ka-Dash-ah because as the mother put it "The dash ain't silent, nigga"). However, as awful as certain names are (Angus, Rouge, and Tron among them), the child can always get them changed.

No, it's really, really not okay IMO. Especially the idea that names given must be gendered-- it's appalling to me that countries that are otherwise so progressive interfere in naming. I'd go so far as to say that I believe a person's right to name themselves is a sacred right. Yes, okay, government interference in the case of actual *fraud* (e.g. a con artist renaming themselves to further perpetrate his crimes) is fine, but I'm leery as hell about it otherwise.

I've often seen people saying it's okay to interfere with a parent's naming choices "if the name would get the kid picked on", but that's inane. Kids pick on other kids over *anything*. I was picked on for having the last name of "North", ffs. Kids are appalling little predators that hone in on weakness-- a kid with a perfectly normal name can have it turned into a button to push, and a kid named Anakin (the child of a friend of mine) could end up *not* being picked on for it if the kid has the right disposition. I guess the only time I'd be okay with intervening is if the given name is like to actually endanger the child (idk, something like "Hitler" or "Whitepride"), otherwise it's inappropriate. (And interfering with an *adult* petitioning for a name change, when it's not fraud? Absolutely not.)

Maybe it's because I legally changed my entire name that I have such a strong opinion on it, but I'm pretty close to an absolutist on this issue.

(Also, this "Le-A" or "K-A" thing is a really well-known racist urban legend.)

I don't think the government should have any intervention but I'd hope that social pressure would help to reign in the... err... naive enthusiasm of some new parents. What looks "cool, and expressive" on the birth certificate is a different kettle of fish when the child is getting bullied in the playground for being called "Summer Breeze Ecstasy" or somesuch twaddle.

Polarity27:
I'd be okay with intervening is if the given name is like to actually endanger the child (idk, something like "Hitler" or "Whitepride"), otherwise it's inappropriate.

Even that's subjective. I worked at a school a few years back where one of the Muslim kids was named "Jihad" - extrapolating the boy's age back, he was clearly named shortly post-9/11. You'd have thought that kind of thing would be as close to naming your son "Hitler" or "Bin Laden" as you could get without facing social services, but apparently the kid didn't get any flak for it and his classmates were seemingly oblivious to the word's meaning. *shrug*

It is perfectly fine for the government to prevent people from giving their children names that are either insane or don't make sense in the context of the Icelandic language (it must make sense in terms of grammar etc).

I am Icelandic by the way.

Our language is very different from most, so lots of names don't work in Icelandic.

Karma168:

For example Carolina is not allowed in Iceland as the letter 'c' is not part of their alphabet; what if you had emigrated to Iceland from a country where it was acceptable and you wanted to name your child after a close relative with that name?

Then tough luck.

If you are born in Iceland, then you get an Icelandic name. Simple as.

The law use to be even stricter. Before 2002-2004 people who immigrated to Iceland even had to change their OWN names to Icelandic names if they wanted to live here.

SO much for naming my first born child Loki, Wolf-Father Mare-Mother.

Thanks, jerks.

I suppose since its going to be government paperwork some reasonable limits should exist. An incomprehensible string of letter number and whatever is obviously not really ok for example, I mean you're not actually going to call your child that because you've made something that cannot be said.

But stuff like the name is too masculine? That's just absurd, in no way is that the governments business, there is zero public interest being served.

We have similar laws in Sweden, though they are less strict. You can't just name your kid anyhthing but there are no cultural limits or such. I suppose it would be possible if a name was ordinary in say, Pakistan, but sounds offensive in Swedish.

I'm cool with it, I wouldn't mind moving closer to the Icelandig way even. There's only nine million of us (less if you want to be that guy). Germany has like three cities that have more people than our entire country. We need to take a more active role in safeguarding our culture.

EDIT: Oh an about the masculine name. I could very well be wrong. But I think it is less conservative gender values and more about wanting to protect the child from bullying. Imagine if you had a boy named Sue.

Too masculine? I agree with the government taking an interest with certain names, but that's bullshit.

(Apparently New Zealand has a thing for stupid names, like twins called "Fish" and "Chips", or that girl called "Talula does the hula from Hawaii)

Names should be given to children by their parents, and all adults should be able to change their names to whatever they want, once for free as far as I'm concerned. I don't think there should be any limit on what a child can be named or name him/herself, especially not on the basis of bullying or sounding too mannish. If, in some minute infinitesimal amount of cases someone would want to change their name to 'Fuzzywarbles McGee' I say let them have at it, but any name change should have a waiting period of 6 months. If it still seems like a good idea after half a year, it must be serious.

It's not up to a government to decide what names are acceptable; if there are parents trying to make their kid's lives harder, I think thát should be the issue, and not any naming conventions. In addition, if a child doesn't like his/her name, I think he/she should be able to refer/be referred to him/herself by another name, and that should be respected. But that's a social thing, and not a matter for the courts.

Some measure is needed. For instance you can't name your child Adolf Hitler, or a random combination of unpronouncable letters, but what Iceland is doing is just plain retarded. Too masculine? And since when have they become the ones judging what gender roles should be?

Although I had a teacher who had the surname Say, and thought he'd name his son Per. That's a normal boy's name in Finland, but put together like that, you have to pronounce it as per se. Some things you mustn't want to do to your child, and that's one of them.

Eh, the regulations shouldn't really go beyond obscene, absurd or harmful names. I don't think something as private as one's own name should be up to strict government regulation, even though - yes - some groundrules are necessary. This is overdoing it, though. Too much involvement. Plus, am I the only one who doesn't exactly think "super male machismo name" when he hears "light breeze"? On the contrary, to me that's a very, for lack of a better word, sensual and female name ("her fingers lightly caressed her lovers lips and chin, like a calm breeze coming in from the ocean; the tears on her face, running down to her lips, tasted of the sea and sorrow; slowly, she drew the hair out of her eyes and..."). But I guess it's not just the meaning but the pronounciation as well.

i can't imagine why there would ever be a compelling state interest to do this, other than a few common-sense requirements for the sake of record-keeping (like limiting names to a certain length or restricting them to a common set of characters.) Governments have no business regulating pronunciation, or gender expression, or whether a given name is "silly" or not.

Nope, the state should have no say in what a child is called. Similarly, they should allow people to change their names after a given age (12-13) to whatever they want, for a fee.

Should be able to name kids whatever you want, as long as *whatever you want* isn't something like *assbucket* or *utter faggot*.

Seems like a silly rule really.

Seems strange how the left is always praising diversity and here are examples of some left leaning nations making laws against diversity.

Its an interesting question about whether parents are the caregivers of children or have ownership over them. Because I, personally, do not think children are owned by their parents or an extension of their parent's will I do think that some restrictions are fine.

Bizzare words, sentences, swear words/insults should allowed to be rejected on a case-by-case basis. I am not for rejecting names because they aren't "local" though (France did that for years; only allowing approved names to be given to their kids).

New Zealand, where I am from, does allow some crazy names - but that is getting tightened up. In my view New Zealanders can give their kids traditional European, Pacific Islander, Maori, Indian, Korean, or Chinese names with no problem (and those of any other prominent ethnic groups I missed out). When they try and get creative, though, I have no issue with some names being rejected if they are too strange.

Kid's aren't some avatar or online profile that the parents get to construct for their own amusement - they have to live their own lives. Sure they can change their names later on but the most problematic issues they are likely to face would have already hit them at school - and the sad reality is that bullied children have their development severely stunted in life. Names aren't in a cultural vacuum either. It is often noted that the surrounding culture treats people in certain ways depending on their name - which can also have an effect on a child's development.

JRslinger:
Seems strange how the left is always praising diversity and here are examples of some left leaning nations making laws against diversity.

You know what's even stranger? That so many American conservatives envision "the left" as some sort of fucking absolutist hive mind. God forbid that a left-leaning society have some rightist policies. If it happens in Europe, it has to be the fault of those durned liberals, right? Nevermind that pretty much everyone in this thread bar Hardcore_Gamer (who is easily identifiable as a conservative) are against such laws.

On topic, I agree with most people in the thread. The government shouldn't have a say in what names are acceptable except in cases of obvious idiocy. I'd also say that as a matter of convenience, limiting names to common characters (so no letter C in Icelandic names) is acceptable. But rejecting names because they're too masculine (in the case of females) or feminine (in the case of males) or neuter? That shit's right out of line.

This is one of those cases where you really can't set arbitrary limits as they are going to be bad for someone. Are bad names given? Yeah, but I think a government ruling on a kids name isn't going to help.

I think there ought to be certain limits, but it is absurdly invasive when it becomes "That sounds too masculine". No, don't need a kid named 24601, but there's too far.

Karma168:
For example Carolina is not allowed in Iceland as the letter 'c' is not part of their alphabet; what if you had emigrated to Iceland from a country where it was acceptable and you wanted to name your child after a close relative with that name?

Then don't live there. I know that might sound cold but it should be an individuals responsibility to learn about the country they want to immigrate to. I mean if I wanted to move to Germany, I should do my best to learn about the country and see what laws they have that are different from the US. I would look stupid if I immigrated to Germany and then got pissed because their laws on speech are different from the US.

Now to your question about the governments role in allowing parents to choose their baby's name, sure I think that the government should have a role in determining what names parents should be allowed to give to their children.

I say that unless you can argue that the name is abusive to the child (naming it "shithead" or something else insulting), then who cares? Then let the kid change their name if they want. Forbidding a name based on gender stereotypes? Laaaaame/sexist/transphobic.

Its a fun line to try and draw where name restrictions should begin and end.

For example we all agree "Fuckbucket" is definitely a no go. I however think things like "Santa" and "Superman" or "Batman" should be illegal. Im not sure if im right in holding this opinion, just that its my gut feeling that no parent who picked such a name is REALLY thinking of their child but is instead playing a sadistic joke for their own amusement.

Gender roles though? Fucking stupid. I can KINDA understand if the name doesnt fit the language. I cant at all for "It sounds too boyish". Thats just sexist, especially if the adult WANTS the name. They are an adult.

Batou667:

Polarity27:
I'd be okay with intervening is if the given name is like to actually endanger the child (idk, something like "Hitler" or "Whitepride"), otherwise it's inappropriate.

Even that's subjective. I worked at a school a few years back where one of the Muslim kids was named "Jihad" - extrapolating the boy's age back, he was clearly named shortly post-9/11. You'd have thought that kind of thing would be as close to naming your son "Hitler" or "Bin Laden" as you could get without facing social services, but apparently the kid didn't get any flak for it and his classmates were seemingly oblivious to the word's meaning. *shrug*

I was having a bit of a brain fart trying to come up with a good example last night. I'm not surprised about the kid named Jihad, a lot of people wouldn't know that one. I was more thinking of really unambiguous situations, like a kid named the N-word, where the kid's name is blatant hate-speech. And even there I think it'd have to be *that* compelling to make state intervention okay. (A string of numbers or something similar, that counts too, because it would make record-keeping nigh-impossible.)

I don't buy the "boy named Sue" type bullying argument. I don't agree that bullying works that way. Resilience is a complex thing, and IME kids go after perceived weakness, testing until they find a button to push that produces a result. Like I said, I know at least one kid with a weird name who's just... affable, and since attempts to tease him over his name don't get results, his classmates don't do it. I'd say that a kid's professional life would suffer more, except that there's a person who's regularly on my TV news named Crystal Ball. I think her name is ridiculous, but it obviously didn't inhibit her. (Then you get into the really complicated questions for parents like whether it's worth eschewing your culture to give your kid a more white-sounding name so their resume gets its foot in the door someday.) That, and when are you forced to bend to a generational divide? My parents had a close male friend named Leslie (or Lesley, I can't remember which way it was spelled), which was a common thing to name a boy back then. Could his grandson not be named in his honor under the "would cause bullying" rule?

Do I think parents can give kids stupid names? Sure, but "stupid" is very much in the eye of the beholder. I'm never going to be convinced that "Neveah" isn't stupid. I'm also never going to be convinced that "Kendall" isn't a stupid name for a girl (it's a brand of motor oil, and the multiple people I've known who named their girls that are forever stuck in my head as people who named their daughters for motor oil). I'm sure there are many people who think the name I picked for myself is stupid. The government shouldn't be interfering in what are, at base, matters of personal taste.

Helmholtz Watson:
Now to your question about the governments role in allowing parents to choose their baby's name, sure I think that the government should have a role in determining what names parents should be allowed to give to their children.

That's not really a point of contention. To pick up on your example of Germany, we have plenty of non-German names and we don't regulate it anywhere near that strictly, while we do have regulations regarding nonsensical, obscene, harmful names and the like. This is a question of extent of regulations, not of yes/no to regulations of names period. And do I think Iceland is going too far? Yeah.

Skeleon:

Helmholtz Watson:
Now to your question about the governments role in allowing parents to choose their baby's name, sure I think that the government should have a role in determining what names parents should be allowed to give to their children.

That's not really a point of contention. To pick up on your example of Germany, we have plenty of non-German names and we don't regulate it anywhere near that strictly, while we do have regulations regarding nonsensical, obscene, harmful names and the like. This is a question of extent of regulations, not of yes/no to regulations of names period. And do I think Iceland is going too far? Yeah.

The person was talking about how they felt it would be unfair for a person immigrating to Iceland to have to abide by the laws of Iceland in regards top naming kids, which is why I responded that it was the person who wished to live in Iceland responsibility to educate themselves about the laws of Iceland. Its absurd to move to another country thinking that you can "just wing it" and that you shouldn't take the time to try to learn if they have laws different from your own country.

Hardcore_gamer:
It is perfectly fine for the government to prevent people from giving their children names that are either insane or don't make sense in the context of the Icelandic language (it must make sense in terms of grammar etc).

I am Icelandic by the way.

Our language is very different from most, so lots of names don't work in Icelandic.

Karma168:

For example Carolina is not allowed in Iceland as the letter 'c' is not part of their alphabet; what if you had emigrated to Iceland from a country where it was acceptable and you wanted to name your child after a close relative with that name?

Then tough luck.

If you are born in Iceland, then you get an Icelandic name. Simple as.

The law use to be even stricter. Before 2002-2004 people who immigrated to Iceland even had to change their OWN names to Icelandic names if they wanted to live here.

Hold up, what happened to you ranting about how oppressive and tyrannical your government is, infested with uber-controlling leftists? Restrictions on porn is Stalinesque, but restrictions on what people can name their child is fine? So, you basically just disagree with authoritarianism when those in authority do things you personally don't care for.

No, but I don't live in Iceland, so it's not really of any concern to me. Carry on, Iceland.

Batou667:
Even that's subjective. I worked at a school a few years back where one of the Muslim kids was named "Jihad" - extrapolating the boy's age back, he was clearly named shortly post-9/11. You'd have thought that kind of thing would be as close to naming your son "Hitler" or "Bin Laden" as you could get without facing social services, but apparently the kid didn't get any flak for it and his classmates were seemingly oblivious to the word's meaning. *shrug*

Jihad means "struggle" or "personal effort". The most common use we're exposed to today is in the sense of a holy war, but in reality it can be any struggle, most notably in history and arabic language it particularly refers to the moral struggle to be a good person and to balance the conflicting responsibilities of Islam.

That's why it (and various permutations of it) are used as given name for boys. It's not about displaying political support for Jihadism, it's a name which originally suggested a hope or a wish that it's owner would strive to be a good person.

So actually, I think the kids didn't have the right idea.. sometimes a little understanding is just enough to bring you to the wrong conclusion.

It's kind of like thinking an Indian kid's parents must be racist because he's called "Aryan", sometimes the meaning of words gets butchered in translation.

evilthecat:
Jihad means "struggle" or "personal effort". The most common use we're exposed to today is in the sense of a holy war, but in reality it can be any struggle, most notably in history and arabic language it particularly refers to the moral struggle to be a good person and to balance the conflicting responsibilities of Islam.

That's why it (and various permutations of it) are used as given name for boys. It's not about displaying political support for Jihadism, it's a name which originally suggested a hope or a wish that it's owner would strive to be a good person.

So actually, I think the kids didn't have the right idea.. sometimes a little understanding is just enough to bring you to the wrong conclusion.

It's kind of like thinking an Indian kid's parents must be racist because he's called "Aryan", sometimes the meaning of words gets butchered in translation.

...and a swastika is a Hindu symbol of peace, but even so, there's a difference between intention and effect.

Hardcore_gamer:
Our language is very different from most, so lots of names don't work in Icelandic.

There are a lot of names in a lot of languages that don't work in other languages. Do you know what those other languages do? Deal with it. My name is "Caitlin," and there is no "L" sound in the Japanese language, so if a native Japanese person were to say my name it would come out something like "Cait-oo-rin." Close enough, I'd be able to answer to that. And I remember a Korean exchange student in my high school who we called Kim, because that was the closest we could get to his name was "Sun Kim," so that's what we called him. No government intervention, no barring entrance into the country because his name was hard to say. Seems like a silly kind of thing for the government to worry about, to me.

As someone else pointed out, this seems very out of character for you. Normally you're finding every reason to rail against "socialism" and government intervention, but here you're all "You'll take your government-issued name and you're going to like it!"

Magichead:
Hold up, what happened to you ranting about how oppressive and tyrannical your government is, infested with uber-controlling leftists? Restrictions on porn is Stalinesque, but restrictions on what people can name their child is fine? So, you basically just disagree with authoritarianism when those in authority do things you personally don't care for.

Same old small government nonsense, isn't it. It always boils down to "I want big government on other things than you guys, so I'm totally small government and principled and stuff".

Really names are like language in that they represent historical legacy, past, present and future. Censorship of history, no matter how ugly or stupid it may be, is abhorrant. It is also pointless, as we can tell from the French's ludicrous efforts to police their own language. I'm rather appalled that this level of pedantry regarding the names of people's own children exists in any developed western country.

There is also the consequence of stunted evolution. In the post you mention that there is no letter (or current analouge) of the letter 'c' in Icelandic. Language is meant to develop and grow; in English when we have been confounded by the limitations of our language we have invented new terms, vowels, phonetics to overcome the problem which has produced the chaotic, vibrant and wonderful language that we have today. I have no doubt that in the future English will be unrecognisable.

Furthermore you aluded to rationals for rejecting names based on "gender roles"; this implies an aspect of socialogical control which can only serve to isolate Iceland from international western culture, marginalising the impact of the nation on the world stage and ultimately alienating its youth who, one assumes, would favour more progressive approaches.

Bertylicious:
There is also the consequence of stunted evolution. In the post you mention that there is no letter (or current analouge) of the letter 'c' in Icelandic. Language is meant to develop and grow; in English when we have been confounded by the limitations of our language we have invented new terms, vowels, phonetics to overcome the problem which has produced the chaotic, vibrant and wonderful language that we have today. I have no doubt that in the future English will be unrecognisable.

This is very true. The purpose of language is to expedite and enhance communication. So if there comes something that we can't properly communicate with our current repertoire of words and sounds, a new word or sound comes into play. Shakespeare is, for the most part, considered to be the greatest user of the English language in the history of the English language, and he invented words left and right. Or, at the very least, he used words that had until that point in time had never been printed on paper. He is considered the greatest user of English because he commanded it and made it do what he needed. He had a goal of something he wanted to convey, used the parts that he had, and then invented the parts he didn't.

Avoiding changes in one's language completely defeats the purpose of having a language in the first place. If something is being a hinderance, then it must change. To keep such an obvious flaw in the language is just making the process of communicating more difficult and less satisfying.

And sometimes it can be as easy as taking a vote. For a long time when television first came into being, they couldn't figure out what word they should use to describe people who are watching television. People who listened to the radio were listeners, people who read books were readers, but they didn't know what they should call TV people. "Lookers?" "See-ers?" "Watchers?" Eventually some magazine did a poll, and viewer was the most popular. And that is why people who watch TV are called viewers.

There is a similar story with the word "Hello." When the telephone was invented, there wasn't a word that seemed appropriate to say when you answer the phone. Alexander Graham Bell's favorite was "Ahoy-hoy," but most people found that to be ridiculous. Before then, "Haloo" was a kind of hunting call, and "Hullo" was something British people said as an expression of surprise ("Hullo, what's this?"). The two versions of the story I've heard is that Edison came up with the word Hello because he was fond of the hunting call, and the other is there was a public call for things to say when you answer the phone, and "Hello" came out of that. Either way, it's a great example of language doing what it's supposed to be doing--filling a need.

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