Why Can't This Icelandic Girl Legally Use Her Own Name?

Owen Poindexter
An Icelandic girl named Blaer Bjarkardottir goes officially by "Stulka" or "girl" because her name is not on the country's official list.

Blaer Bjarkardottir, left, whose name means "light breeze" cannot legally use her own name, because it is not on Iceland's official list. PHOTO: AP

A 15 year-old Icelandic girl named Blaer Bjarkardottir, is known in official documents as "Stulka," which translates simply to "girl" because Blaer is not one of the country's 3500-some names (1853 of which are intended for females) which are legally recognized by the state. What? Yes.

Blaer and her mother Bjork Eidsdottir are now suing the state for the right to have Blaer (which means "light breeze") be Blaer's legal name instead of "girl," which apparently is legal enough for official documents. Icelandic parents can attempt to go off-list in naming their children, but they have to fill out an application and pay 3,000 ISK ($23) to have the proposed name evaluated by the Icelandic naming committee. This committee determines whether the proposed name is in fitting with Icelandic language, gender and cultural conventions, as well as to make sure that it does not cause embarrassment.

Blaer was rejected by the committee for taking a masculine article (apparently light breezes are male in Iceland). Blaer's mother is appealing the decision, and said that she is willing to take this to the Supreme Court if necessary. She found the committee's decision "frustrating because Blaer is a perfectly Icelandic name.”

While Iceland's law is bizarre and a little Orwellian, I'm glad that there is someone preserving names like Bjork and Agusta. I wouldn't want anything like Iceland's law in the U.S., except for celebrity babies whose names we all have to hear.