Friday, May 3, 2013

12 countries where the government regulates what you can name your child

Fifteen-year-old Blaer Bjarkardottir (left) and her mother sued Iceland to have the traditionally male name Blaer. (AP)  

Fifteen-year-old Blaer Bjarkardottir, left, and her mother sued Iceland for the right to the traditionally male name Blaer. (AP).

New Zealand released an updated list of its legally forbidden baby names this week, sparking some controversy among people who apparently think “4real” and “Lucifer” should not be banned, or maybe just that the state shouldn’t be in the business of saying what you can or can’t name your own children.

But New Zealand is not alone. A number of countries regulate names, and many are much stricter than New Zealand. (Regulators there did, after all, allow “Number 16 Bus Shelter.”) In Iceland, for instance, parents must choose from a list of roughly 1,800 girls’ names and 1,700 boys’ names, according to the BBC. And in China, Mental Floss reports, parents can only use characters that computer scanners can read.

All told, at least a dozen countries, including Germany, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Morocco, Japan and Malaysia, have baby naming laws.

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