I heard a line from the movie “Coach Carter” the other night that made me laugh. There’s these three teenage black girls, one of whom is pregnant, sitting around discussing what she was going to name her child. I think it went something like this :
Girl One: "I was thinking of calling her Loquisha.”
Girl Two: “Girl, the ghetto just called and they want that name back.”
Girl Three: “Yeah, you might as well just name her “Food Stamps” and get it over with.”
Alas, as the The Bard so wisely said;
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
Excerpt from Romeo and Juliet
Act II Scene II
I was cruising through the Internet getting my fix of news when I came across an interesting article about a 10 year old girl in Iceland being denied a passport on the basis of her name and it got me to thinking, hmm, I wonder what other countries around the world restrict what a parent could call their child?
Well, as it turns out, there’s quite a few. Let’s take a look at some of the countries themselves and see what’s allowed and what isn’t.
Did you ever wonder why there were so many boys named “Karl” and girls named “Hannah” that are of German heritage?
Well, according to something called the “Standesamt” (which loosely translates to “office of vital statistics”) German parents must give their child a first name that is indicative of the child’s gender. They are not allowed to use the names of objects or products as a first name. Each name is submitted to the local bureau of the Standesamt for approval and if the name is “verboten” the parents can appeal the decision. Of course this comes at a cost so many parents give up and stick to traditional names the Standesamt deems acceptable and is found in something they call “the international manual of first names.”
When I think of the Swedes I usually think of a laid back sort of country where just about anything goes. Maybe that’s true to some extent but when it comes to naming your child there was a law enacted back in 1982 that forbid the common folk from giving their babies what was considered a “noble name”. It’s since been changed to read “ First names shall not be approved if they can cause offense or can be supposed to cause discomfort for the one using it, or names which for some obvious reason are not suitable as a first name."
One enterprising family decided to protest the law and decided to call their bundle of joy “"Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116” which was rejected. They then went to the other extreme and tried to go the simple route by naming their baby “A”. It too was rejected.
They were not alone though. Don’t try and name your kid Metallica, Superman, Ikea and for some strange reason “Elvis” since those names aren’t acceptable under Swedish law. Also, if you want to change your name in Sweden from the one you were given as a child, choose wisely, you’re only allowed to do it once.
I don’t know who in their right mind would want to call their kid “Anus”, “Pluto” or “Monkey” but if you try that shit in Denmark you can forget about it. There’s a statute in place called the “Law on Personal Names” that limits Danish parents to about 7,000 preapproved names for girls and boys. If the name you chose wasn’t on the list or you try and get too creative with the spelling of some common Danish names chances are the government will reject your request.
There’s actually a committee that was formed in 1991 that approves each and every name given to a child in Iceland and if a new one is deemed acceptable. From what I can see, their guidelines are pretty strict. It must contain only letters in the Icelandic alphabet and be grammatically acceptable within the language. They also take in to consideration whether the name will cause the child some form of embarrassment later in life and should be gender specific. You also can’t have more than three personal names.
Currently, there are 1,853 female names and 1,712 male names that are on the list. It gets even more confusing since babies born overseas of Icelandic descent can be named according that countries naming laws, so, sorry 10 year old “Harriet”, the girl I mentioned earlier, your name isn’t on the list.
New Zealand's Births, Deaths, and Marriages Registration Act of 1995 doesn't allow people to name their children anything that "might cause offence to a reasonable person; or ... is unreasonably long; or without adequate justification, ... is, includes, or resembles, an official title or rank."
I guess that’s why they rejected such monikers as “Stallion”, “Yeah Detroit”,”Fish and Chips,” “Twisty Poi”, “Keenan Got Lucy”, “ Sex Fruit”, “Satan”, and of course, Adolf Hitler.
Kudos also go out to user Andrew Aguecheek for pointing out Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii.
On the other hand, they did allow a pair of twins to be named “Benson and Hedges” and in one of those “what the fuck” kind of moments, “Number 16 Bus Shelter.”
Since there over 70,000 characters that the Chinese can choose from and currently only about 13,000 of them can be represented on a computer the government strongly “recommends” potential parents in China limit themselves to those only. Numbers and non Chinese characters are also not allowed.
Any other noders out there who might live in another country than those listed above can either message me to update this write up or perhaps, better yet, chime in with one of their own.