From Iceland — Vivian Gets A Yes; Baltazar Gets A No From Naming Committee

Vivian Gets A Yes; Baltazar Gets A No From Naming Committee

Published February 28, 2017

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Christian Schulze

Yet another batch of names ran the Naming Committee gauntlet, some faring better than others.

RÚV reports that Baddi, Vivian, Lofthildur and Nathanel were all approved by the Committee. However, Baltazar and Zophia were both rejected.

Baltazar was rejected on the grounds that this is not considered a “traditional” spelling of the name; Iceland’s best known director, for example, spells his name Baltasar [Kormákur]. Zophia was rejected for a similar reason, although not because of the use of Z. Rather, the Committee contended that it is more common in Icelandic to end such names in -ía rather than -ia.

As reported, the Naming Committee and the laws which it abides may soon be a thing of the past.

RÚV reports that the results of a new poll from the Social Sciences Department of the University of Iceland show about 60% of respondents in favour of doing away with the naming laws. 20% were neutral on the matter, and only 20% were against getting rid of them.

The purpose of the naming laws – and the Naming Committee which operates under their auspices – is to ensure names can be declined in accordance with Icelandic grammar. They also seek to determine if a new name has historical precedence in Iceland. Currently, foreign names are simply not declined when used in Icelandic speech or writing.

Iceland’s name laws have come under considerable criticism in the recent past. Former Reykjavík mayor Jón Gnarr has been especially vocal in his opposition to the laws, which had prevented him from changing his legal name to the one he has been known as for decades (he would eventually make the legal change in Texas).

Icelandic citizen Harriet Cardew has also had to deal with considerable headaches due to having a foreign name, and still cannot get a passport because of it.

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