Would You Go to the Supreme Court to Fight For Your Child’s Name?

That’s what Bjork Eidsdottir, an Icelandic citizen, may have to do to enable her daughter, now 15, to keep the name she chose for her: Blaer, an Icelandic word that means “light breeze.”

The reason she may have to take her case to the highest court in the country is Iceland’s strict naming laws, which require parents to choose a name that is on a list of around 3,500 baby names, or petition a special commission for the right to use something else. But there are strict controls on those special cases—such as the requirement that it uses only letters in the Icelandic alphabet, a rule that prohibits parents from using “C” names like Crystal, Carrie or Christopher, at least with their traditional spellings. (Names that are considered distasteful or offensive to the child are banned, too—so don’t expect a baby named Loser or Hashtag to fly there, either.)

Bjork was prohibited from using the name for her daughter because the word Blaer is considered masculine, as it takes the masculine article in the Icelandic language.

We’ve debated the merits of laws on baby naming before on the blog (especially when the baby girl named Hashtag Jameson came to light), but to me, this sounds totally restrictive of a parent’s rights. And it also seems like it’s ridiculous to ban this particular name—Blaer is very close to the English name Blair, and it has a beautiful meaning in Icelandic. I’m hoping that the court sees reason on this, and overturns the naming commission’s decision, allowing Blaer to keep her beautiful name.

What do you think, parents? Do you like the name Blaer? Do you think naming restrictions are the way to go? What would you do if you lived in a country that limited baby names?

Photo: Gavel by heromen30 / Shutterstock.com

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  1. by Abby@AppMtn

    On January 3, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Trouble is that Blaer is SO close to Blair, and Blair is appealing. It is easy to argue that Blair sounds just like Claire, so of course it is okay …

    If the name were, say, Jackson or William, I think more parents would be willing to rule with the authorities in Iceland.

  2. by Becky

    On January 3, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    So why exactly have they waited 15 years on this? Seems if they let it go this long it’s a little too late now.

  3. by Kathleen

    On January 3, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    I have no problem with governments restricting parents from offensive or harmful names. It is a shame that governments need to step in at all, but with some parents and their choice of names, it is a must. I just wonder about some celebrity baby names, like Pilot Inspektor, Audio Science, and Moxie Crimefighter and think someone should have stepped in to protect these poor kids!! And people thought Gwyneth Paltrow was wacky for naming her daughter Apple!!! I do think it is too much to restrict names based on ethnic origins or letters used in spelling.

  4. by Megan

    On January 3, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    Okay so she named her daughter Blaer which they are saying is masculine? But if she were English she would’ve spelled it differently and it would’ve looked more girly. My issue is the girl is now 15, why the heck did they wait so long to have a problem with the name? I agree with Becky, it’s too let now the girl is almost an adult just let her keep her name. If the government is going to throw a fit about what parents name their children then they need to do so within a reasonable time-frame, I’m sorry but 15 years is WAY too late in the game to make a big deal about it.

  5. by Ava

    On January 4, 2013 at 4:35 am

    We can’t set policy in another country, only their citizens can. And maybe these laws were put into place to avoid names like loser and hash tag. It seems a bit extreme, but how many of us know anything about Icelandic culture. I am an American living in Germany, my son was born here, I can’t give him a name that is unisex nor traditionally feminine. There are other rules as well. Presumably, the mother was aware of the laws and made her decision in spite of them. I feel sorry for the 15 year old that may have to change her name but mama should have tout about the consequences 15 years ago, just as Hashtags mama should have tout about the consequences 15 years from now.