Iceland's strict baby name policies

One Icelandic teen is suing her country because the name her mother gave her, Blaer, isn’t on the country’s list of approved names and is considered "masculine" so they changed her name to Stulka — which translates to “Girl” in English.

Here in the United States where baby names like Moxie Crimefighter and Blue Ivy hardly make us bat an eye, it is hard to imagine not being able to name your child whatever you wish. In Iceland, however, parents must choose from an approved list of 1,853 girl names and 1,712 boy names.

Icelandic mother Bjork Eidsdottir named her daughter Blaer, which means “light breeze,“ only later to find out that name wasn’t on the approved list after her child had been baptized. The country of Iceland has since identified 15-year-old Blaer as Stulka, or “Girl,” on all of her official documents, including her passport.

“I had no idea that the name wasn't on the list, the famous list of names that you can choose from,“ said her mother.

Iceland's baby name rules

Iceland isn’t the only country that has strict baby name rules. Germany and Denmark also require parents to pick from their approved names. Some interesting baby name rules in Iceland require that the name “be adaptable to the structure of the Icelandic language and spelling conventions” (so no creative spellings) and “does not cause the bearer embarrassment.“

In addition, they do not have any unisex baby names and they state that girls cannot be given a boy’s name and vice versa. It sounds like Jessica Simpson’s daughter Maxwell Drew would have been out of luck!

As would Uma Thurman (who famously gave her daughter five names), as “no person can have more than three personal names.” Due to the fact that the letter “C” is not in Iceland’s alphabet, they have also rejected all “C” names, including Carolina and Christa.

The name Blaer deemed "masculine"

In Blaer’s case, NBC news reports that the country didn’t accept it because it “takes a masculine article, despite the fact that it was used for a female character in a novel by Iceland's revered Nobel Prize-winning author Halldor Laxness.”

The 15-year-old teen said she is taking her case to court and is prepared to take it all the way to their Supreme Court if the decision isn’t in her favor on January 25. “So many strange names have been allowed, which makes this even more frustrating because Blaer is a perfectly Icelandic name,“ said the teen's mom. “It seems like a basic human right to be able to name your child what you want, especially if it doesn't harm your child in any way.“

Tell us

Do you understand Iceland’s laws in protecting children from having a unique name that may cause them embarrassment — or do you think parents should be able to name their child whatever they want?

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Comments on "Icelandic teen named “Girl” battling to change her name"

What's in a name January 07, 2013 | 8:01 AM

Of course the government rule-makers know better than the people. It seems sensible to limit freedoms because someone might be embarassed? Wow. What if I am offended by your post Eleanor? Should it therefore be removed? Maybe just a government-issued number and no names be allowed at all. . . For all this tolerance, we sure seem so intolerant.

Eleanor January 06, 2013 | 2:04 PM

I am with them on wanting to preserve the integrity of the Icelandic language, which poses some unique grammatical challenges.I think it is sensible to prohibit embarassing or confusing names. But all rules need to bend occasionally. Particularly as not everyone today identifies as male or female. Perhaps a non-traditional name could be allowed as a middle name and used informally?

Leslie January 03, 2013 | 6:50 PM

I think parents should be allowed to name their children whatever they want, but would hope they would have enough respect and decency to give them a name that they won't hate when they're older...or a name that other's will make fun of growing up.

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