Image: Jelena Ćirić | Iceland Review

Does Iceland have a naming committee for pets as well?

 In Ask IR, Culture

Q: In Iceland, you need permission from a naming committee to name your children. Do you also have to get permission to name your pets?

A: Iceland indeed has a committee known as the Personal Names Committee which keeps track of all approved Icelandic given names and functions as a gatekeeper for the introduction of new given names into Icelandic culture. It was established in 1991 with the goal of ensuring new given names fit into Iceland’s language and culture. If a name is not on the official list of approved names, then an approval request must be submitted to the naming committee before the name can be given. The committee judges if names agree with Icelandic tradition and how likely they are to cause the bearers harm.

Now, let’s talk about pets. The answer to this is simple: you don’t need permission to name your pets. There is, however, a Horse Naming Committee. Horse owners only have to submit horse names to that committee if they want to enter their horse in official competitions. The Horse Naming Committee has only recently been formed and was deemed a necessary evil to preserve the Icelandic language. The committee checks if names are compatible with Icelandic grammar rules, but also if they are vulgar or form an acronym, so it works quite similarly to the Personal Names Committee. Marketing seems to be a motivating factor behind the Horse Naming Committee as well: it appears most people don’t like buying Icelandic horses with foreign names.

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