Icelandic Naming Committee: Sorry, Not Sorry

Naming Committee: Sorry, Not Sorry

Published July 10, 2014

Nanna Árnadóttir
Photo by
Grapevine Archive

The chairperson of Iceland’s naming committee, Ágústa Þorbergsdóttir, has said that the committee is here to stay–and that should it be dismantled, the development of names in Iceland could go down a dark path, reports RÚV.

Ágústa said that without the naming committee people would begin to name their children letters, like, ‘S’, or give their children as many as 17 names.

Ágústa also said that she felt there was a perception in Iceland that the naming committee set out to turn down names but that on the contrary the committee usually wished to grant most requests.

The naming committee has been in the spotlight of late because a 10-year-old Icelandic girl named Harriet, whose name is not legally approved,  was denied an Icelandic passport.

Former mayor Jón Gnarr also challenged the naming committee recently, calling it “discriminatory” and only applicable to a “fraction of Icelanders”. Gnarr has long opposed the Name Committee, in part because of his personal struggles to have his name legally changed to Jón Gnarr, as he has been known to the general public for decades.

The Name Committee is a government body which approves or rejects new names being added to the Icelandic lexicon. Their decisions are based on historicity (i.e., if the name has been used on at least one occassion in Iceland before) and whether or not the name can be declined according to Icelandic grammar. This latter criteria has allowed for an Icelander to name his daughter Ripley, after the protagonist of the Alien movies. Ripley, like more traditional Icelandic names such as Fanney and Sóley, can be declined according to Icelandic grammar.

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