The Icelandic Name Committee – a special government sponsored
body which legally approves or rejects new names for Icelanders – has
found itself in the rare position of being split in their judgement of
the name Skallagrímur.
The name creating the controversy is literary, taken straight from the
Sagas, so one would imagine such a name would be a done deal. However,
in the words of the majority – who oppose the name – said Skallagrímur
was a “literary surname, like Brennu-Njáll, Göngu-Hrólfur, Axlar-Björn
and Grasa-Gudda. However, such names could be degrading, especially as
they are connected to physical appearance, as in this case.” The
“skalla” in the name refers to baldness.
Dissenting was Baldur Sigurðsson, University of Iceland docent in
Icelandic cultural science, who said, “I believe as before as the name
should be considered because of its special connection with Icelandic
history and culture,” refering to the internationally renowned Egil’s
The Name Committee is seldom of a divided opinion. New names submitted
for legal approval primarily must meet the criteria of appearing at
least three times in Icelandic history.
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