No Arbitrary Decisions by Iceland Name Committee Skip to content

No Arbitrary Decisions by Iceland Name Committee

Associate professor of Icelandic Baldur Sigurðsson, who used to have a seat on the Icelandic Naming Committee, stated that the committee never makes whimsical decisions and that there was a sound reason for rejecting Blær as a female name.

baby_psPhoto: Páll Stefánsson/Iceland Review.

Even though Blær exists as a woman’s name in dictionaries, it cannot be found in the registry of human names compiled by the committee in 1991. “Rare names and names like this that were out of the ordinary were left out,” Baldur told RÚV.

If a name was only carried by one or two persons it was not necessarily included, as in the case of Blær, he explained. “At the time only one woman went by that name […] and three to four men.”

Some years later, Blær was accepted as a male name. “And that marked a point of no return,” Baldur added, reasoning that according to law, only men can bare male names and women female names.

Baldur said that in spite of popular belief, the Icelandic Naming Committee hardly ever uses the provision in the law which authorizes the rejection of names on the basis that they may cause harm to the person carrying it.

“It is about as rarely used as the emergency brake on a train,” Baldur stated. “The provision was never used while I was on the committee and I only know of one incident: when permission for the name Satanía was applied for.”

Click here to read more about Blær Bjarkardóttir’s legal struggle to have her name approved by authorities.


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