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Icelandic names Options
Kerry.P
Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2016 8:06:16 PM

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I remember Thar explaining Iceland's surnames before, but I don't recall a discussion about a register for approved first names!

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-23/iceland-green-lights-the-name-angelina/7870766

I'm curious - and hopefully someone familiar with Iceland customs (eg, Thar) can give me some more info.

For example, do families register their child's name in line with the approved list, but use a familiar or nickname in practice?
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2016 9:30:12 PM

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Interesting question - we'll have to wait for an answer.

This site gives the list - I make it the be about 3500 approved male names (I didn't count the girl's names and the 'unisex' ones - from the number of pages, I'd guess about 3500 female and 2000 'both sex'.

That's not bad.

When I was young (in the middle of the last century) Catholics were limited to Saint's names ONLY - quite a few, I guess, but a lot less than 9000.

It has caused difficulties.

I know one person who was registered (birth certificate) "Ewan" - good British name. That's on his Birth Certificate and that's what he was always called in the family.
However, there is no Saint Ewan, so he was baptised "Anthony". That's on his Baptismal Certificate.
He opened a bank account as "Anthony Ewan".
When he was married, the registrar verified his identity with his baptismal cert.
When he bought his house, the solicitor used his birth certificate.

He recently found that he can't make his wife a co-owner of the house (without several hundred pounds of legal bills and hoo-ha) as the house is owned by Ewan, but the wife is married to Anthony - and the bank account used to pay the mortgage is owned by Anthony Ewan.
Very vexatious.

Kerry.P
Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2016 10:11:29 PM

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Hi DragOn,

The difficulties of Ewan/Anthony resonated for me.
In cultures where the woman changes her surname as a result of marriage/divorce it can be a #*&@#!! nightmare. (Australia is one of the countries with this culture, although these days it's voluntary, not mandatory.)

I was also in business with my ex and he resigned from the company - we were both directors. I've since wound down the business, but, one supplier refuses to acknowledge me as being authorised to close the account. When the business was active I could make changes to the contract with this supplier (and of course make payments) but I can't close the account. grrrr

Then there's the many organisations where I have to get them to change my name on their records. Oh boy - is that fun. They are clearly not aware of the law in this situation and I get Kafka-esque demands for proof of name change.

It's taking years to get this sorted.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Friday, September 23, 2016 12:55:29 AM

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Hi Kerry.

I can imagine . . .

I believe (if I remember thar's earlier comments) Iceland is not one of those countries - at least not traditionally.
A girl's second name is "her mother's daughter" - Svana Ingeborgsdottir - and it stays that way. I mean, if she married Sven Karlsson, it would be silly to call her Karlsson Eh? .

Hungary also have an official list of possible names, a few thousand long.

The Hungarian traditional matrimonial method is dying out now but you still see it, I'm told (though none of my Hungarian friends in the UK and USA use it). (note - family name first, personal name second)

The daughter of Molnár Ferenc would be Molnár Júlia before marriage.

After marriage to Szendrey István, her official name would be Szendrey Istvánné - basically Szendrey István's. Neither Molnár nor Júlia are part of her name any more.
Married women did not have a personal name - though friends often continued calling them by their childhood name.
thar
Posted: Friday, September 23, 2016 4:14:05 AM

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I think there is a different approach to names, culturally, to other places like the states (although I know that is a big and diverse place to generalise about) and other English-speaking places.

If you have a family surname, then your first name is your individual statement to the world - from Jon to Moon Unit to Fifi Trixabelle. It is about standing out. Your surname says who you are (or at least who your father's family was) - where you are from - whether you are a Smith or a Carlson or a Donetti. That is the anchor.

If you have no family name, then your first name is your cultural heritage. Your connection to the past. Every generation makes that choice whether to be part of it or to break with it. And in Iceland that connection to the past is personal - everybody comes from the same roots, a thousand years of a small family. You don't want to call your child 'Brad', because that is breaking the link. Do you want your grandson to be Bradsson?

For girls' names it is slightly different, (they are not usually used for matronyms - the standard is the father's name) but they are still a link to the past - a thousand years of struggle and hardship and community.
You call someone by their first and second names, for men, or often just their first names for women. 'Björk' is not being a diva or using a marketing ploy by using her first name - that is they way you use names here. You would have referred to the female Prime Minister or President in the same way. The phone book lists you by first name and occupation. If your daughter is going to be the President and known by their first name, you don't have that same urge as some other people have to call them Fifi!

You can see the way the names are used by the census lists. 'Christian' names like Jón do exist - it is a common first name - and cultural names like Sigurður are common - but if you look at the second names they are all closely linked to Norse culture. - Þór, Hrafn, Freyr, Ingi, etc

edit - eg http://px.hagstofa.is/pxen/pxweb/en/Ibuar/Ibuar__Faeddirdanir__Nofn__Nofnkvk/MAN11119.px

Girls tend to only use one name as often as two - and that is slightly less 'Norse' than the boys, - most common is 'Anna', and you have more internationally known names like Maria and Margrét - but still, people like to keep the Norse culture alive - names I don't know from other places, like Ósk, Sif.
These names are a statement. If you have ever met the name Sif it was probably in a Thor superhero film (in mythology Thor's wife)- but here it is a name, a statement of origin. Nearly a thousand years of Christianity, and people are still calling their children Þór and Sif - that is cultural activism. Whistle
You tend not to mess with that just because you like a Hollywood star!


Another thing to remember is that the name has to be able to take the genitive case. X - Xsson, Xsdóttir. Or more rarely, for a woman's name Y -Ysson, Ysdóttir. It is not always just adding an s - there are other changes when you make the genitive case.

Of course like any country there are fixed nicknames, such as Siggi (Sigurður), Gummi (Guðmundur) - but, frankly, most names are one syllable! You can make up nicknames, - usually you add an 'i' on the end of some syllable, but they can be more inventive. And you can often have a nickname that is not your name - some sort of in-joke or pet name.

There is a big selection of 'official names' - and if you want another one you will most likely get permission - so long as it can be given the needed case endings. The reason it comes up in the news is not because there is pressure against the system - it is more that wanting new names is rare, and so it is newsworthy. People choose the old names for a reason. Maybe because this place is so small, you don't feel the need to stamp your individuality in your name - there is enough room for individuality in a small community. This country is just a large town - and half of it is small villages - you can be anything or anyone you like - and you will be the only one! Whistle

There is a mixture of 'outlander' and 'heritage' names used for girls - but you will see the second names tend to be cultural.
eg, just for a representative list of women's names, the women's football team. The patronym is only given because this is a list for international consumption, and other countries like to see a 'last name' - as it is important to them. You can see that if someone has a non-Norse first name, they tend to have a Norse second name.
Guðbjörg Gunnarsdóttir, Sandra Sigurðardóttir, Glódís Perla Viggósdóttir, Hallbera Guðný Gísladóttir, Málfríður Erna Sigurðardóttir, Elísa Viðarsdóttir, Anna Björk Kristjánsdóttir, Sif Atladóttir, Gunnhildur Yrsa Jónsdóttir, Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir, Dagný Brynjarsdóttir, Andrea Rán Hauksdóttir, Elín Metta Jensen, Fanndís Friðriksdóttir, Hólmfríður Magnúsdóttir, Margrét Lára Viðarsdóttir, Harpa Þorsteinsdóttir, Berglind Björg Þorvaldsdóttir.

There is more freedom with girls' names, because they do not form the children's last names - but there is still a cultural awareness that your name describes who you are The bigger family. That is not insecurity, or defence against an incoming world - it is just remembering who you are. Most people want to be a part of that.
There is not a general feeling that families are 'inventing' or 'creating' their own identity.

With recent immigration of migrants from around the world, and Syrian refugees, there might start to be people who don't want to part of the country's heritage - that is something Iceland is only just beginning to deal with. Before 2006, the country was basically one-way traffic - out. The last people to arrive and settle did so before the year 930 - that is when Iceland announced it was 'full' and settlement pretty much ended for over a thousand years. That makes it very different from many other countries - and creates a different attitude to identity. Think

Peter O'Connor - Dundalk
Posted: Friday, September 23, 2016 4:36:33 AM

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I'll ask an Icelandic friend.
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Friday, September 23, 2016 5:02:59 AM

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Thar,
is it possible for an immigrant's son to be called Muhammed Abdulson?
thar
Posted: Friday, September 23, 2016 5:38:52 AM

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Maybe!
Múhameð Abdúlsson

I think it is actually an easy concept for most middle Eastern cultures to get.





Quote:
The criterion for acceptance of names is whether or not they can be easily incorporated into the Icelandic language. With some exceptions, they must contain only letters found in the Icelandic alphabet (including þ and ð), and it must be possible to decline the name according to the language's grammatical case system, which in practice means that a genitive form can be constructed in accordance with Icelandic rules.

Interior ministry rules:
[quote]Section II. Forenames.
Article 4. Every child shall be given one or more forenames, but not more than three.
The guardians of a child shall have both the right and the duty to give it a forename in accordance with this Act.
Article 5. Forenames shall be capable of having Icelandic genitive endings or shall have become established by tradition in the Icelandic language. Names may not conflict with the linguistic structure of Icelandic. They shall be written in accordance with the ordinary rules of Icelandic orthography unless another orthography is established by tradition.
Girls shall be given women’s names and boys shall be given men’s names.
A forename may not be such as to cause its bearer embarrassment.


Contrary to some foreign coverage, it is nothing to do with the origin. Just the use (and the fact it has to be a male or female name - as nouns have gender. For example, you might want to call your daughter "Ský" (although it means 'cloud') - but it is a masculine noun. Shame on you




'Foreigners' do get dispensation to follow their own rules. There are also a very few inherited names - chief's titles, really. Maybe they will come under that system - and get dispensation for first names.
The law is 'everyone who does not have a family name gets to construct their own patronym. If you have a family name, you keep it. The point is that Icelanders started off, like most of Germanic Europe, without family names. It is everywhere else that changed the rules! Whistle Most Icelanders never got family names.

Quote:
Every person who does not have a family name shall call himself by a patronymic or matronymic so that following his/her given name or names, one of the given names of his/her father or/and his/her mother shall appear in the genetive case, with the suffix "son" in the case of a man or "dóttir" in the case of a woman. A person who has a family name can use either his/her father}s or his/her mother}s given name in the genitive case with the suffix as described above in addition to his/her family name.


You can choose whose name to use - your father is most common, but it can be their first or second name. Or a grandfather. Or a mother. Or both.

But family names are recognised.
For example, if you have a foreign "Danishised" name, you can inherit it - like footballer Eiður Guðjohnsen who is the son of Arnór Guðjohnsen. Both are Icelandic (and the name uses Icelandic script) - and he really should be Eiður Arnórsson. So the system does have flexibility. With respect to the refugees - I am sure that has been discussed and given special dispensation.
In the longer term, it depends on how much they want to become "Icelandic" sons and daughters, and how much they want to stay being Syrians living in Iceland. Whistle
Priscilla86
Posted: Monday, September 26, 2016 3:52:32 AM

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Drag0nspeaker wrote:
Interesting question - we'll have to wait for an answer.

This site gives the list - I make it the be about 3500 approved male names (I didn't count the girl's names and the 'unisex' ones - from the number of pages, I'd guess about 3500 female and 2000 'both sex'.

That's not bad.

When I was young (in the middle of the last century) Catholics were limited to Saint's names ONLY - quite a few, I guess, but a lot less than 9000.

It has caused difficulties.

I know one person who was registered (birth certificate) "Ewan" - good British name. That's on his Birth Certificate and that's what he was always called in the family.
However, there is no Saint Ewan, so he was baptised "Anthony". That's on his Baptismal Certificate.
He opened a bank account as "Anthony Ewan".
When he was married, the registrar verified his identity with his baptismal cert.
When he bought his house, the solicitor used his birth certificate.

He recently found that he can't make his wife a co-owner of the house (without several hundred pounds of legal bills and hoo-ha) as the house is owned by Ewan, but the wife is married to Anthony - and the bank account used to pay the mortgage is owned by Anthony Ewan.
Very vexatious.



Sorry to hijack the thread but I really feel for this Ewan guy. Indonesia has always been fast and loose when it comes to names on the legal documents so when I came to Singapore (where everything is standardized and orderly), I had to get so many authorization letters and even went so far as to make a sworn letter at the Supreme Court because I have different names on different documents. Took me years before I finally sorted it out.
mactoria
Posted: Monday, September 26, 2016 6:07:06 AM
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Re Drag0nspeaker's comment about Catholics in the mid-20th century being required to name children after a recognized saint. At least in my part of the US, the saint's name could be either the first or middle name. My first name is definitely not a saint's name, but my parents baptized me with a saint's name in the middle to make the priest happy. I understand not all cultures or ethnicities use middle names though so the saint-only rule would have applied.

There was (I'm no longer a practicing Catholic so don't know current rules) a requirement that when Catholic kids reached about 13 years old they had to be "confirmed" in the faith and had to take an additional middle name which had to be a recognized saint's name. Remember a bunch of us going through the Catholic calendar of saints' days and coming up with some which we now would not admit to e.g. Bibiana, Germaine, etc. (No offense intended to anyone with those names who like them, they just didn't fit well in my ethnic farm community in the 60s).

BTW, some ethnicities/cultures use two last names/surnames, including my Azorean/Portuguese ancestors. My parent's generation used just one last name, but their parents used a double surname configuration e.g. Silva Bettencourt. As far as we've been able to go back, these double-surnames were on the man's side, they weren't a combination of mother and father as became fashionable in America a few decades back with hyphenated names; though we wonder if they were a combo of mother/father surnames further back in history.

While it may be a little constricting having a register of approved names as Iceland does, it does have a certain appeal given the plethora of made-up first names we have now in the US.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Tuesday, September 27, 2016 5:08:40 AM

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mactoria wrote:
While it may be a little constricting having a register of approved names as Iceland does, it does have a certain appeal given the plethora of made-up first names we have now in the US.

But the list definitely has to include 'Zowie' . . .
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