Iceland teen fights government to approve her name
An Iceland teen is fighting the government's official naming registry to deem her name appropriate. Blaer – "light breeze" in Icelandic – is not a recognized name, so she is identified legally only as "girl."
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Her mother is hoping that will change with her suit, the first time someone has challenged a names committee decision in court.Skip to next paragraph
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Though the law has become more relaxed in recent years — with the name Elvis permitted, inspired by the charismatic rock and roll icon whose name fits Icelandic guidelines — choices like Cara, Carolina, Cesil, and Christa have been rejected outright because the letter "c'' is not part of Iceland's 32-letter alphabet.
"The law is pretty straightforward so in many cases it's clearly going to be a yes or a no," said Agusta Thorbergsdottir, the head of the committee, a panel of three people appointed by the government to a four-year term.
Other cases are more subjective.
"What one person finds beautiful, another person may find ugly," she acknowledged. She pointed to "Satania" as one unacceptable case because it was deemed too close to "Satan."
The board also has veto power over people who want to change their names later in life, rejecting, for instance, middle names like Zeppelin and X.
When the artist Birgir Orn Thoroddsen applied to have his name legally changed to Curver, which he had used in one form or another since age 15, he said he knew full well the committee would reject his application.
"I was inspired by Prince who changed his name to The Artist Formerly Known As Prince and Puff Daddy who changed his to P. Diddy and then Diddy with seemingly little thought or criticism," he said. "I applied to the committee, but of course I got the 'No' that I expected."
On his thirtieth birthday, he bought a full-page advertisement that read, "From February 1, 2006, I hereby change my name to Curver Thoroddsen. I ask the nation, my friends and colleagues to respect my decision."
"I can understand a clause to protect children from being named something like 'Dog poo,' but it is strange that an adult cannot change his name to what he truly wants," he said.
Thoroddsen is keeping his protest to the media. But Eidsdottir says she is prepared to take her case all the way to the country's Supreme Court if a court doesn't overturn the commission decision on Jan. 25.
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"So many strange names have been allowed, which makes this even more frustrating because Blaer is a perfectly Icelandic name," Eidsdottir said. "It seems like a basic human right to be able to name your child what you want, especially if it doesn't harm your child in any way."
"And my daughter loves her name," she added.