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Iceland Mag


Fear that the Nordic tradition of patronymic surnames will die out should naming laws be changed

By Staff

  • No more rules? Icelanders follow a strict set of rules when it comes to naming their offspring. Photo/Daníel Rúnarsson

According to Morgunblaðið members of Icelandic Naming Committee feel there is a need to set some guidelines when it comes to naming children, should the committee eventually be abolished, as MP Óttarr Proppé has suggested.

The committee also addressed the fact that the parliamentary bill proposes no rules or regulations regarding the use of numbers and symbols in names, something that is banned in many countries, the US included.

Read more: Two-year-old girl not allowed to be named Alex

Also, there are some concerns as to revoking laws regarding last names. Committee members fear that the old, Germanic tradition of last names, a custom that has survived only in Iceland, could die out if people are given the option to take up family names. Icelandic surnames follow the Nordic tradition of patronymic and/or matronymic names. Children take the given name of their father and/or mother with the suffix “son” in the case of a male and “dóttir” in the case of a female.

Read more: Do Icelanders have family names?

The Icelandic Naming Committee was established in 1991 and governs the introduction of new given names into the Icelandic language. The name must only contain letters in the Icelandic alphabet, must grammatically fit the language, it may not embarrass the child in the future and it must indicate the child’s gender.

Iceland is not the only European country that follows a strict set of rules when it comes to naming their offspring: Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Germany also have some pretty interesting naming laws

Read more: MPs hope to change Icelandic naming laws

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