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Sat Jan 5, 2013, 03:37 PM

Should new parents have to chose baby names from an approved government list?

I had not heard of this previously. Germany, Denmark and Iceland have approved lists of baby names, seeking to prevent odd names, or names that folks cannot figure out how to pronounce. (The anglocentric sense of irony that Bjork Eidsdottir is, in Iceland, an easy to pronounce name is noted in passing.)

It's kind of like a parody of intrusive statism. It does protect children from the whims of eccentric parents (No Moon-Unit Eidsdottirs), but seems very much on the runaway state dystopian side of things.

I always say please and thank you, and could make a case that society would run a little smoother if everyone did... but there is some merit in the American philosophy that the law is not meant to dictate everything that can be argued to be good.

A 15-year-old is suing the Icelandic state for the right to legally use the name given to her by her mother. The problem? Blaer, which means “light breeze” in Icelandic, is not on a list approved by the government.

Like a handful of other countries, including Germany and Denmark, Iceland has official rules about what a baby can be named. In a country comfortable with a firm state role, most people don’t question the Personal Names Register, a list of 1,712 male names and 1,853 female names that fit Icelandic grammar and pronunciation rules and that officials maintain will protect children from embarrassment. Parents can take from the list or apply to a special committee that has the power to say yea or nay.

In Blaer’s case, her mother said she learned the name wasn’t on the register only after the priest who baptized the child later informed her he had mistakenly allowed it.

“I had no idea that the name wasn’t on the list, the famous list of names that you can choose from,” said Bjork Eidsdottir, adding she knew a Blaer whose name was accepted in 1973. This time, the panel turned it down on the grounds that the word Blaer takes a masculine article, despite the fact that it was used for a female character in a novel by Iceland’s revered Nobel Prize-winning author Halldor Laxness.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/icelandic-girl-fights-government-over-right-to-use-her-name-only-approved-names-allowed/2013/01/03/1e9a95d0-557a-11e2-89de-76c1c54b1418_story.html

54 replies, 4093 views

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Reply Should new parents have to chose baby names from an approved government list? (Original post)
cthulu2016 Jan 2013 OP
TwilightGardener Jan 2013 #1
DearHeart Jan 2013 #2
cthulu2016 Jan 2013 #10
reorg Jan 2013 #16
ProgressiveProfessor Jan 2013 #44
reorg Jan 2013 #46
CTyankee Jan 2013 #34
reorg Jan 2013 #48
CTyankee Jan 2013 #49
reorg Jan 2013 #50
CTyankee Jan 2013 #54
sibelian Jan 2013 #3
dlwickham Jan 2013 #4
Jackpine Radical Jan 2013 #27
newfie11 Jan 2013 #5
Buzz Clik Jan 2013 #6
Arctic Dave Jan 2013 #7
ohheckyeah Jan 2013 #8
Robb Jan 2013 #9
Jackpine Radical Jan 2013 #29
LineLineLineNew Reply ^
Warren Stupidity Jan 2013 #53
thelordofhell Jan 2013 #11
FarCenter Jan 2013 #12
reorg Jan 2013 #13
virgogal Jan 2013 #32
TlalocW Jan 2013 #14
OldEurope Jan 2013 #15
OldEurope Jan 2013 #17
Nye Bevan Jan 2013 #18
CTyankee Jan 2013 #35
Dirty Socialist Jan 2013 #19
TexasBushwhacker Jan 2013 #20
gollygee Jan 2013 #21
jberryhill Jan 2013 #22
ChairmanAgnostic Jan 2013 #23
PennsylvaniaMatt Jan 2013 #24
KitSileya Jan 2013 #25
trof Jan 2013 #26
southernyankeebelle Jan 2013 #28
Jackpine Radical Jan 2013 #33
southernyankeebelle Jan 2013 #36
LWolf Jan 2013 #30
MrScorpio Jan 2013 #31
southernyankeebelle Jan 2013 #37
MrScorpio Jan 2013 #38
southernyankeebelle Jan 2013 #41
MrScorpio Jan 2013 #42
southernyankeebelle Jan 2013 #43
Bay Boy Jan 2013 #39
southernyankeebelle Jan 2013 #40
ProgressiveProfessor Jan 2013 #45
jwirr Jan 2013 #47
slackmaster Jan 2013 #51
samsingh Jan 2013 #52

Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 03:45 PM

1. Are you seriously expecting any "yes" responses?

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Response to TwilightGardener (Reply #1)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 03:48 PM

2. What you said.

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Response to TwilightGardener (Reply #1)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 04:12 PM

10. The question is almost rhetorical, but...

Germany is a big place with one of the world's biggest economies and seems to have entered this via some democratic process, so obviously many millions of people would say yes.

Hard for me to imagine... but it is what it is.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Reply #10)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 04:40 PM

16. well, there is an ordinance

It states that the choice of a child's name is the exclusive right of the parents, but since in Germany parents have the duty to act responsibly and not to the detriment of the child, their choice will not be accepted if the name appears to conflict with that duty.

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Response to reorg (Reply #16)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 09:21 AM

44. Germany also bans homeschooling and other things "in the best interest of the child"

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Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #44)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 09:44 AM

46. yes, absolutely

Religious nutcases who think sex education is too "obscene" for their kids can apply for political asylum in the US.

And corporal punishment is not just illegal in schools, it's also illegal in Germany if you beat up your own children. Another reason why freedom loving individuals would like to seek asylum rather than get "comfortable with a firm state role", no doubt.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Reply #10)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 07:06 PM

34. we are a multi-ethnic, polyglot nation and Germany and many others in Europe

are not (or not yet, may be getting there). So it's hard to compare our apples to their oranges. The French are pissy about being French and I accept that and it actually gives me a laugh.

I guess my question, which I do ask gently, is why should we care what other countries do about baby naming? We live here, they live there and c'est la vie!

Hey, I'll grit my teeth and take it if I can go to Paris again, eat their food and drink their wine...

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Response to CTyankee (Reply #34)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 10:20 AM

48. So, in the polyglot US

are you free to choose a name for your child that contains letters which are not part of the latin alphabet?

I'd be curious as to how these are dealt with in databases and official forms that you have to fill out with computers.

Or would you accept "a firm state role" in e.g. requiring that names used in offical documents must be transcribed into the alphabet used for your country's official language?

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Response to reorg (Reply #48)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 10:35 AM

49. My Iranian ESOL student proudly

posts in Facebook in both English and Farsi. She speaks French of course and she is in my Advanced ESOL class. Her community intersects constantly with the non-Iranian communities in our area. She sees no problem having her "official government" documents in the latin alphabet and neither do I.

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Response to CTyankee (Reply #49)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 11:06 AM

50. well, I'm somewhat relieved to hear that

because I was afraid I may be considered a narrow-minded Nazi for thinking that such a requirement is a non-issue ...

In the WP article quoted in the OP, the lack of the letter C in the Islandic alphabet seems to be treated as a risible offence, though, only explicable by being "comfortable with a firm state role" ...

Though the law has become more relaxed in recent years — with the name Elvis permitted, inspired by the charismatic rock and roll icon whose name fits Icelandic guidelines — choices like Cara, Carolina, Cesil, and Christa have been rejected outright because the letter “c’’ is not part of Iceland’s 32-letter alphabet. *

...

“I can understand a clause to protect children from being named something like ‘Dog poo,’ but it is strange that an adult cannot change his name to what he truly wants,” he said.

“I was inspired by Prince who changed his name to The Artist Formerly Known As Prince and Puff Daddy who changed his to P. Diddy and then Diddy with seemingly little thought or criticism,” he said. “I applied to the committee, but of course I got the ‘No’ that I expected.”

On his thirtieth birthday, he bought a full-page advertisement that read, “From February 1, 2006, I hereby change my name to Curver Thoroddsen. I ask the nation, my friends and colleagues to respect my decision.”


(* You wouldn't know it from the article, but such names are only an issue if you refuse to transcribe them, e.g. Carolina to Karolína: Icelandic Female Names H-K

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Response to reorg (Reply #50)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 12:47 PM

54. well, every country evidently has its little crazinesses when it comes to its language.

One of the reasons I feel just fine with the sensible latin alphabet when it comes to government regulations is that I know how flexible the English language is. We also have the biggest language in terms of vocabulary, a factoid I learned in ESOL training. Our language has been altered and embellished by our polyglot citizens.

Not to say that I don't have my standards. I refuse to admit defeat on use of the 3rd person singular in the present tense and will correct any of my students if they say "he go" or "she say." But I think it is inevitable that it will change...

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 03:49 PM

3. I have thought about this in a rather shallow way.


I'm not sure it requires any deep thought.

My feeling is "no".

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 03:51 PM

4. I have no problem with what the Icelandic government is doing

it doesn't affect me

if the citizens of that country were so opposed to the law, one would think that it would have been changed by now

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Response to dlwickham (Reply #4)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 06:51 PM

27. Yeah, the Icelandic dictatorship.

They have the oldest parliamentary government in the world, going back to about 1000 a.d., when all the outlawed Norwegians who settled Iceland after having been run out of the Old Country would gather once a year to do their government business.

And yes they had slaves, and the lower classes couldn't vote. That put them about on a par with the America of 1790.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 03:53 PM

5. I would want to know what the citizens of those countries say

A different culture maybe ok with it. So I guess I don't care.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 03:54 PM

6. All parents should name their boys "Buzz" and girls "Nadine"

No list required.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 03:57 PM

7. We are numbers.

 

Names are a quaint tradition.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 03:58 PM

8. Creepy.

Seriously creepy.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 04:03 PM

9. It's Iceland. Look up how their naming conventions work over the generations.

I forget what it's called, but the person's new surname is built from the first name of the parent.

The point is they've collectively decided it's a cultural tradition they feel is important. Zero surprise there are laws arising from it, because that's how laws appear.

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Response to Robb (Reply #9)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 06:53 PM

29. Thordis MoonUnitsdottir.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 04:13 PM

11. Welcome your new baby into the world-----Shit Stain Ass Whippy

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 04:21 PM

12. The US is weird because the names are mostly in non-English languages

Therefore names usually have no semantic meaning in English.

In countries where names have a semantic meaning in the vernacular, it probably pays to be careful.

(Of course, you might want to check that the new baby's name isn't an epithet in some other language.)

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 04:32 PM

13. not true in the case of Germany

the registrar (?) can interfere with the choice of the parents if the chosen name appears to be detrimental to the "well-being of the child" (Kindeswohl). This is assumed to be the case if the chosen name designates a common object such as "street" or "mountain" and so forth, or if the chosen name is commonly used only for the other gender. Sometimes, of course, such decisions may be questionable and hard to justify. If parents disagree, they can sue, which some of them do.

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Response to reorg (Reply #13)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 06:57 PM

32. No boy named Sue then. Johnny Cash would be disappointed.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 04:36 PM

14. No... BUT

I wouldn't mind seeing programs for new parents or expectant parents where a group of volunteers look at an intended "strange" name and after determining the name is not "strange" because of cultural reasons but because the parents want their kid to be extra unique, a counselor sits down with them and says the following...

"Congratulations on the upcoming birth of your child. (Sarcastically) No human or for that matter creature throughout the ages has ever encapsulated what the 'Miracle of Birth' is as much as you so we all know that your spawn will be extra-extra super-duper special so it's logical that you'll want to give the little sweetums an extra-extra super-duper special name. We, of course, can't stop you from naming your child whatever you want. However, here are some things you might want to consider before ruining your child's name with a moniker like, 'Apple,' or, 'Genn'iphur.'"

TlalocW

"Seriously... You're considering naming your kid, 'Sinatra,' if it's a boy? Is this some sort of temporary insanity brought on by pregnancy-induced hormones?" Me, to my niece.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 04:37 PM

15. I would like to explain:

In Germany there is no list of approved names. But there are rules for German citizens. The name must not be offensive or harmful to the child, so you cannot chose Superman or Piggy or Diaper or Cauliflower as a name. Though some nouns are actually names, especially flowers like Iris or Rose. You can chose phantasy words or names from an other language, like Frodo or Andrea for your son. Sometimes when the gender is not clear (for example in case of Andrea for a boy which is normal in Italy, but not in Germany - here it is considered female) you have to give the child a second name to make clear. Which is IMHO discriminatory to those who were born with unclear sexual characteristics. On the other other side: a boy named Andrea could be bullied badly when the other children make fun of his "girls" name.
The rules do not apply to foreign citizens living in Germany. It is up to the registrar to decide whether the choice of the parents is accepted or not and the parents can bring evidence that the name already existed.
Some cases were brought to court when the parents did not want to accept the decision of the registrar and the frame got widened up. So you can name your daughter Bavaria (would not recommend that, because here a Bavaria is considered pejoratively a very, very big woman with baroque physique http://de.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Datei:Bavaria_2.jpg&filetimestamp=20060502120521 ) In most cases the registrar was acknowledged.
In one case the court did not allow the parents to give their child twelve names, ten of which were at least unusual, they had to constrain to 6 and at least one of them had to be a name that allowed to identify as male or female.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)


Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 04:41 PM

18. Hollywood celebrities would never stand for that here (nt)

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Response to Nye Bevan (Reply #18)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 07:09 PM

35. well, that settles it! If Hollywood celebrities can't name their kids what they damn

well want, then we aren't FREE, dammit!

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 04:41 PM

19. One parent in Dayton, Ohio named her kid

Shithead. I kid you not.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 06:03 PM

20. Well, it would mean parents couldn't name their kid Hashtag

but my mother had a classmate named Hugh Pugh and that would still be acceptable. But no, I think parents should be able to name their children what they want.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 06:06 PM

21. What if somebody moves there from someplace else and wants to use a family name

that is unfamiliar in Iceland and doesn't follow their language's rules?

I vote no. Creepy.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 06:15 PM

22. Do you believe we should require Latin alphabet characters?

I believe the only opinions which matter here, are those of the people of Iceland, no?

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 06:27 PM

23. only if the parents can choose a child from an approved government list.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 06:43 PM

24. I am opposed to this......BUT

I kind of like the concept because I live in rural Pennsylvania, and you don't know how many people, especially those who are "not reputable members of society" (I will use a "politically correct" version of the term "white trash") name their kids really "odd" names. If you want a perfect example, look at the names of Sarah Palin's children.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 06:45 PM

25. Let us also remember that Icelandic is an endangered language.

If I remember correctly, there's about 350,000 people living in Iceland, and that's the only place Icelandic is spoken. They have a very thorough policy of language protection, of which this law is part. They re-use old words rather than import English words, for example.

In addition, as mentioned before, first names in Iceland have consequences for their children too, as their naming convention is that the last name of a person is their father's name (or their mother's, if father is unknown) plus -dottir or -son.

I'm not saying that I condone being as strict as the Icelandic, but some regulation isn't amiss, I think. For example, here in Norway, you cannot give your son a somewhat common Arabic short name because in Norwegian it essentially means c%nt (pardon me for typing it.) There were other restrictions as well, but the laws were liberalized in the 90s, and now unusual names, or unusual spellings of names, are considered on a case to case basis, and the criteria is whether it will cause the child undue burden. I mean, someone tried to give their baby the name Sånnja as a variant of Sonja, the name of the queen, which is basically pronounced the same. However, with a slightly different stress pattern, "sånn ja" means "like that, yes" in Norwegian.... it was refused.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 06:46 PM

26. Damn right! How would you like to be named cthulu2016?

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 06:52 PM

28. Well in the catholic church if I am not mistake you have to have at least a christain name.

 

Mary Blair McDonald. Mary being the christain name. She could also be called Blair Mary -------. It could be different today. In some ways I can understand because having a name like Moon Frye would be terrible. Or Apple, Suri so on.

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Response to southernyankeebelle (Reply #28)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 06:59 PM

33. I think there is a law in France to that effect.

"Pagan" names aren't allowed, iirc.

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Response to Jackpine Radical (Reply #33)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 07:10 PM

36. Well I think as long as you have one Christian name its fine to have any other name.

 

When our son was born he didn't have a Christian name until he was baptize in the catholic church. We gave him 2 middle names. One after a catholic priest and one after a Protestant minister. It was funny because priest had to keep stopping to ask what is that again. It was funny. So our son has 3 names and his last name.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 06:54 PM

30. I support the right of parents to name their kids whatever odd thing they please.

I've seen some pretty damned odd names in the decades I've taught in public ed.

Teaching in K-8, I sometimes drift down to the K classrooms to check out the bulletin boards, since names are displayed. Just looking to see what names are coming up the pipe, so to speak.

It's funny to see that a name previously rare suddenly becomes fashionable. While I get tired of trying to differentiate all the different Michaelas, Breanas, Madisons, etc., and keeping up with all the weird spellings is a challenge, I wouldn't change it.

Mostly. I have to admit that I think the "creative" spellings of names goes too far. When parents add in extra syllables that aren't pronounced, or leave syllables out that are pronounced, I get a little irritated. My students think it's funny that I say some of their names phonetically instead of what their parents meant. It means I'll remember every different spelling variation.

Sometimes I've felt sorry for the kid with the "unique" name. Like the girl named Placenta. Her non-english speaking mother heard the nurses say it when the girl was born and thought it was pretty.

I wouldn't interfere with parents' choice of baby names, in all the glorious and ridiculous permutations they come up with.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 06:56 PM

31. You'e being funny, right? nt

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Response to MrScorpio (Reply #31)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 07:13 PM

37. I bet she isn't. Working for the miitary I have seen a lot of weird names. I wonder

 

why in the world don't they realize they could be hurting their childrens future job prospects.

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Response to southernyankeebelle (Reply #37)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 07:16 PM

38. I don't have a problem with unique names, I have one my damn self

I just think that the problem is BAD unique names.

There's an art to it… Unfortunately, most people are finger painters.

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Response to MrScorpio (Reply #38)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 08:14 PM

41. LOL, your right. How about the names Sparrow, Bleu, Sprocket. I mean are these names

 

that are different isn't something I would want to hand down my child. If you feel you want to give them these names then do it as a nickname.

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Response to southernyankeebelle (Reply #41)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 08:22 PM

42. "Sunshine" is a beautiful name

"Bleu Sunshine" is going a bit overboard.

"Blue" for a guy is very cool name, however.

"Sparrow" and "Sprocket"? No way.

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Response to MrScorpio (Reply #42)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 09:40 PM

43. I think some movie star named their kids that. Crazy.

 

Sunshine is a nice but not for a first name. I'd like it as a nickname though.

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Response to southernyankeebelle (Reply #37)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 07:31 PM

39. I wonder if people realize

that when they are giving their children ethnic names that it can cause problems in the future?

For starters a racist can look at the names on job applications and skip the ones that
sound ethnic.

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Response to Bay Boy (Reply #39)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 08:11 PM

40. Yep, that is what I meant. People don't think future.

 

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 09:28 AM

45. A friend of mine named his daughter using the "ae" contraction found in some languages

that is not present in USASCII. Her legal name cannot be put in a US database. He was adamant about it while she was growing up. Caused schools and government groups no end of problems.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 09:59 AM

47. This post must seem very ironic to Native Americans. In our early census takers could not spell the

real names of most of the Natives and just gave them some English name like John Smith. To this day many Natives still have two names = the one that comes down from the English name and the name given to them by their tribal leader who chooses the name from their own language. By the way they were never asked if the wanted to have another name. They were told.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 11:07 AM

51. My godsons Gleegh and Liberace strongly disagree

 

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 11:08 AM

52. no

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