Given Name “Woman” Rejected by Naming Committee Skip to content
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Given Name “Woman” Rejected by Naming Committee

Elín Eddudóttir’s request to adopt Kona as her second name was rejected yesterday by the Icelandic Naming Committee, RÚV reports. It is not the first time the name, which simply means “woman” in Icelandic, has been rejected by the committee. Elín says the committee’s reasoning behind the decision was unclear and she has requested further explanation.

The Icelandic first name Elín is often followed by a second name or middle name. Elín Eddudóttir says she is often asked whether her name is just Elín, and has often thought about adopting a second name. In 2014, she read an interview with Kristbjörg Kristjánsdóttir, who said the Naming Committee had twice rejected her request to adopt the name “Kona.”

“I thought to myself that that would be a cool name and I wanted to be called that. So I requested it but didn’t get it,” Elín stated. “I won’t abide by that and have sent the Naming Committee a response.”

The Icelandic Naming Committee maintains an official register of approved Icelandic names and governs the introduction of new names into the register. All names given in Iceland must be approved by the committee, whose value is widely debated in Iceland. The Icelandic parliament has repeatedly discussed dissolving the committee and slackening naming laws.

Violation of naming laws

According to the ruling Elín received yesterday, the name Kona violates Article 5. Act No. 45/1996. According to that article, given names must take declension in the genitive (fourth) case in Icelandic and have precedent in Icelandic naming tradition. Names must conform to the Icelandic grammatical system and should be written according to the general rules of Icelandic spelling, unless there is a tradition for unconventional spellings. The article further states that girls shall be given women’s names and boys shall be given men’s names and that given names should not do harm to the person to whom they are given.

The word kona is a common noun used for female individuals of a certain age, the ruling states. It is not however explicitly banned in Icelandic naming laws, and several names with similar meanings exist in Icelandic naming tradition, such as Karl (man), Sveinn (young man), and Drengur (boy). The aforementioned names, however, have a long history in Icelandic naming tradition, some appearing in ancient manuscripts or other Nordic languages. Kona, according to the ruling, does not enjoy such a tradition and violates the Icelandic grammatical system.

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