Iceland owns your name-Harper’s

July 17, 2012

[FACT comments: We saw a mention in Harper’s that the Icelandic govt rejected family’s 1973 proposal to name their newborn daughter Blær because the word is a masculine noun meaning ‘tint’ in Icelandic. English, of course, does not require masculine or feminine nouns but by usage. Now a university student, Þuríður Blær received another rejection by the committee even though she has been called Blær all her life.

Blær did her research, and found that there was another woman named Blær, born in 1973. In the letter she wrote to the Name Committee over the matter, she also pointed out that “blær” being a masculine noun prevents it from being a woman’s name did not stand up to reason – the words “auður” (wealth) and “ilmur” (scent) are both masculine, and are both female names.

The request to reverse the decision is not alone, either. Morgunblaðið reports that a woman is filing a lawsuit against the Ministry of the Interior for the right to name her daughter Blær. Her request to the Name Committee was originally rejected, and her daughter has had the name Stúlka (“girl”) ever since. She is now fourteen years old.

“…bird names, like Kría, Ugla and Lundi, have been increasing for girls, there has been little demand for fish names. Þorskur and Karfi are possibilities the committee may consider though.”

Icelandic names are mostly patronymic, deriving from the father’s name rather than family lineage.

From 1925, an Icelander cannot inherit a family name unless it has been formally inherited. As in Thailand, directories such as those for telephone numbers are alphabetised by forename which is also the standard form of address.

In 2006, the Naming Committee approved new names because they could be conjugated grammatically. Magnus was rejected but Magnús is approved!

FACT has added “name censorship” to its extensive list of govt interferences, although we have abiding sympathy for preserving the languages and cultures of tiny social groups. (For more examples of this, see the booklist here: Evertype will be publishing my own book, The Classical Wizard / Magus Mirabilis in Oz in 2013.).

Frankly, we wondered what they were thinking when good friends, Yippies Abbie and Anita Hoffman named their son America and Frank and Gail Zappa named their first daughter Moon Unit (siblings Dweezil, Ahmet and Diva Muffin).]

Icelandic Naming Committee

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Icelandic Naming Committee (Icelandic: Mannanafnanefnd)[1] is a body established in 1991[1] that governs the introduction of new given names to the culture of Iceland: it determines whether a name that has not been used in the country before is suitable for integration into the Icelandic language. To be accepted, the name must only contain letters found in the Icelandic alphabet, and must be able to be declined according to grammatical case. The name is also considered for its compatibility with traditions,[2] and whether it may cause the bearer embarrassment.[3] The committee comprises three appointees who serve for four years, appointed by the Minister of Justice, one to be nominated by the Icelandic Language Committee, one by the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Iceland and one by the Faculty of Law.[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b Barker, Simon (2 September 2009). “What’s in a Name? – Part 1: Naming and Historicity”. Iceland Review Online. Retrieved 17 March 2010.
  2. ^ Rettarheimild (online 2010). “Meginreglur um mannanöfn” (in Icelandic). Dómsmála- og mannréttindaráðuneyti. Retrieved 26 April 2010.
  3. ^ (online 2010). “Name giving”. Prime Minister’s Office. Retrieved 5 June 2010.
  4. ^ “Personal Names Act (No. 45)” (in English). Iceland: Ministry of the Interior. 17 May 1996. Retrieved 4 June 2011.

External links


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