Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sorry, You're Not on the List

Ah, perhaps you're thinking of the response your at-best-U-list Friar would hear were he to try to crash some swank Hollywood bash filled with the beautiful people and their large bodyguards.

No doubt you would be right, but in this case I'm referring to a 15-year-old Icelandic girl named Blaer. Or, in the eyes of her government, "Stulka," which is Icelandic for "girl." According to official Icelandic records and law, the young woman does exist, but she does not have a first name. The error stems from a mistaken understanding by the priest who baptized her, as he believed the name was permitted when it actually wasn't.

Yes, you read that right. In Iceland, and according to the story at the link, a couple of other countries in Europe, you may choose your child's name from a list of officially approved names that meet certain criteria. Young Blaer has the problem that Icelandic is a language with gendered nouns, like Spanish or German and her name, which translates into English as "light breeze," takes a masculine article when it is just a regular old noun instead of a name. Had Blaer been born a boy, she likely could have had her name approved through the special application process. Of course, there would be the problem of being a boy named "Light Breeze," but that's for the schoolyard to handle. In all official government documents, Blaer can't call herself Blaer, but has to identify herself as "Girl."

The story goes into some detail about how names can get approved even if they're not on the list and what names have recently been given approval and which ones haven't.

In college, I had a journalism school classmate from Iceland, and she was a neat person who had a lot of interesting things to teach about her homeland. But in spite of that and in spite of all the other neat folks from Europe I've met in my life, I have to say that stories like this make me positively ecstatic that my forebears got themselves off that utterly ridiculous continent just as lickety-durn-split as they could.

1 comment:

CGHill said...

I assume Cameron Diaz and Morgan Fairchild were not available for comment.