From Iceland — New Icelandic Names: "Bambus" In, "Pírati" Rejected

New Icelandic Names: “Bambus” In, “Pírati” Rejected

Published March 28, 2018

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Avsar Aras/Wikimedia Commons

The Naming Committee has gone through a new batch of names, accepting and rejecting a number of requests.

The Naming Committee’s rulings do contain a few surprises. For example, Nancy was approved as a woman’s name, despite the fact that the letter C does not exist in the Icelandic alphabet, nor do words ever end with the letter Y. The approval rather came due to past precedent, the name having appeared twice in the census before from 1703 to 1920.

Bambus, the Icelandic word for “bamboo”, was also approved, as a man’s name. This is primarily because it is possible to decline this name in accordance with Icelandic grammar. This was the same reasoning behind approving Ripley as a girl’s first name in 2011.

Not all names made the cut, though. Pírati, submitted for approval as a middle name, was rejected. This is because “pírati” is an Icelandicisation of the English word “pirate”. The actual Icelandic word for pirate is “sjóræningi” (literally “sea bandit”).

Other names that were approved include Alparós (for women), as well as Líus and Leví (for men). The decidedly regal middle name Strömfjörð, however, was rejected.

The Naming Committee oversees which new names may be added to the Icelandic lexicon. There are a number of qualifications that prospective names need to fulfill, such as being able to decline the name in accordance with Icelandic grammar, or that there is historical precedent for the name in Iceland. It has been criticised as being an obsolete institution by many, amongst them former Reykjavík mayor Jón Gnarr, while the Committee’s supporters say the institution is crucial for helping protect the Icelandic language.

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