Published January 4, 2013
Icelandic author Halldór Laxness has a certain connection to the current name dispute in Iceland that has gained international attention – he may have been the catalyst.
As reported, 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.
Now 15 years old, her case gained the attention of the Associated Press, who ran the story, which was then picked up by Fox News, among others.
As many know, the naming committee approves – or rejects – new names that parents want to add to the lexicon. The basis for their decision is usually attributed to historical precedent for the name, and how well or poorly it applies to Icelandic grammar. Blær does have historical precedent – as Vísir point out, Halldór Laxness himself may have been the man who started it all.
The author, who won the Nobel Prize in literature for his novel Independent People, invented the name for a character in another novel of his, Brekkukotsannál. Halldór would later suggest the name for a friend of his who was expecting a child. Taking him up on his offer, Blær Guðmundsdóttir was born shortly thereafter, and her name was approved by the committee, although she believes Halldór’s influence likely had something to do with it.
While Blær (which means “tint”) is a masculine word, other masculine words have become girl’s names, among them “auður” (wealth) and “ilmur” (scent).