From Iceland — End Of The Naming Committee On The Horizon

End Of The Naming Committee On The Horizon

Published February 27, 2020

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Nanna Árnadóttir

If the draft of a bill from the Minister of Justice becomes law, the Naming Committee will be no more, and Icelanders will have a lot more freedom in terms of how and what they can name their children.

The Naming Committee judges new names primarily on two criteria: historical precedent and accordance with Icelandic grammar rules. However, it has received considerable criticism, from people hailing from the left and the right alike.

Minister of Justice Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir has herself been critical of the institution, and has several times called for it to be shut down.

If this draft becomes a bill and then a law, it would do away with the provision that Icelandic names may not use letters which do now exist in Icelandic, such as Z, C, W and Q. It would, however, retain the provision that names may not be considered humiliating or invite abuse from others, although that provision has also historically been up for interpretation.

The “legality” of a name would be left to the National Registry to decide in cases where it is unclear if the name in question can be allowed, and they can turn to the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies for their input in those cases.

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