Thursday, January 03, 2013

What’s in a Name? A Lot - including Legal Complications

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as swe

Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)
Well, that may be so, but names are very personal. Parents normally give it a lot of consideration what they want to name their offspring. In the US, that’s quite straightforward. This has its downside – famous children have to go through life which first names such as “Moon Unit”, “Apple” and “Aleph”. Not all countries are as liberal as the US.

In Sweden "Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb111163” (pronounced Albin) was submitted by a child's parents in protest of the naming law and was rejected. The parents later submitted "A" (also pronounced Albin) as the child's name which was also rejected. Other rejected names include Metallica, Superman, Veranda, Ikea and Elvis. Funny enough, accepted names include Google (as a middle name) and Lego.

In Germany, the child’s first name must indicate the child’s gender and must not negatively affect the well being of the child. Many German parents prefer to give their traditional names such as Maximilian, Alexander, Marie and Sophie. “Matti” was rejected for a boy because it didn't indicate gender. However, approved names for boys include "Legolas" and "Nemo".

In China, babies must be named based on the ability of computer scanners to read those names on national identification cards. Numbers and non-Chinese symbols and characters are not allowed. Furthermore, Chinese characters that can not be represented on the computer are not allowed, which limits them to 13,000 out of 70,000 Chinese characters. “Wang @" was therefore rejected, although the parents chose it since the @ symbol in Chinese is pronounced "ai-ta" which is very similar to a phrase that means "love him."

A similar issue emerged in Iceland. A teenager is suing thegovernment since her given name “Blaer” (which means “light breeze” in Icelandic) was rejected since it is not in the list of 1,712 male names and 1,853 female names officially allowed. In Iceland, given names are significant since everyone is listed in the phone book by their first names. Even the president, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, is addressed simply as Olafur. Furthermore, names such as Cara, Carolina, Cesil, and Christa have been rejected since the letter "c'' is not part of Iceland's 32-letter alphabet.

Will Blaer be successful? I hope so!

(Image courtesy of crazyyetwise)

No comments: