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Iceland teen fights government to approve her name

An Iceland teen is fighting the government's official naming registry to deem her name appropriate. Blaer – "light breeze" in Icelandic – is not a recognized name, so she is identified legally only as "girl."

Iceland teen Blaer Bjarkardottir – whose first name means "light breeze" in Icelandic – is suing the Icelandic government to approve her name. The 15-year-old (left, with her mother Bjork Eidsdottir, right) does not have one of 1,853 approved female names.


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Call her the girl with no name.

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 DenmarkIceland 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.


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