You’ve got to be kidding

Sometimes I laugh at the names people give their children. Sometimes I want to weep. Sometimes I think, “Poor kid.” But it never, ever crossed my mind to have the government approve baby names.

Germany takes a highly regimented approach to naming. Children’s names must be approved by local authorities and there is a reference work, the International Handbook of Forenames, to guide them.

The head of the centre at Leipzig University that provides certificates of approval for names that have not yet made the official list, Professor Juergen Udolph, said: “The state has a responsibility to protect people from idiotic forenames.”

And according to the story, protect people from having too many surnames (have they never heard of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, or Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg? They did pretty well despite the length of their surnames).

Now I want to weep, not for unfortunate children, but for a German society that thinks restricting parent’s free speech and right to name their own child is somehow a public good deserving of taxpayer funds and worth taking up court time to enforce.

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6 Responses to You’ve got to be kidding

  1. Peg says:

    As someone with one of the shortest names on earth (even though my official name is longer), I really appreciate it when it comes to filling in forms. I suspect the reasoning is due to the space available on all official forms and the processing through data bases designed with X number of boxes (limited) – ie, it stuffs up the processing if names don’t ‘fit’. I doubt that there is any ideological agenda involved – merely bureaucracy and its convenience. Though I do wonder what happens with all those cultures (especially say, the Spanish-speaking world) where women do not adopt a husband’s name, but add it to their own (father’s)……

  2. Legal Eagle says:

    I understand that this law is partially to stop people calling their children “Adolf Hitler Schwarzkopf” (or something like that). I do know that the parents of a friend of mine had to apply to call my friend a name spelled in a non-traditional way.

    Seems kinda crazy to me.

  3. Whats wrong with having a stupid name?

    Off topic – Jarrah when are you buying me a coffee? And why don’t you write for the ALS blog instead of this rag?

  4. pedro says:

    Umm, they’re Germans. There’s a reason for stereotypes you know.

  5. greg says:

    I live in Germany and I think what you have quoted is exaggerated, there are some (pretty disgusting) cliche-Germans here but I most people are reasonable. I don’t think there would be many names the “authorities” would reject. On the other hand check out the recently appointed federal economy and finance minister’s full name: “Karl-Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Franz Joseph Sylvester Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg” (known as Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg for short).

  6. Jarrah says:

    I love that name. It’s gone full circle, bypassing amusing (4 names), silly (5 names), in poor taste (6-7 names), and parody (8 names) to end back at cool with 10, counting the hyphenated first as one and ignoring the last name ‘von etc’ which is an achievement in itself. This name is a masterpiece.

    It surpasses in length but, I believe, does not exceed in tongue-twisting beauty some of the traditional Spanish names, like El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula, Anastasia de Santa Teresita del Niño Jesús Rodríguez Hernández, Carlos María Eduardo García de la Cal Fernández Leal Luna Delgado Galván Sanz.

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