Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


February 3, 2013

So what's in a first name?

Let’s play the name game. Except in Iceland and a few other countries, there are rules parents must abide before signing a birth certificate. According to an article by the Associated Press, names such as Carolina and Christa aren’t allowed because the letter “c” is not part of Iceland’s alphabet. The name “Blaer” for a girl is also forbidden because it not on the approved list for girls’ names and it is a masculine name in the Icelandic language. There are only 1,853 approved names on the list for female babies.


Blaer is a real teenager who recently won the right to use her given name. Fifteen years ago, her mother didn’t know the name was on the forbidden list for girls. The government and official authorities refused to acknowledge the name and referred to her as “girl.” The mother and daughter team finally won a court case to legalize her name in Iceland. Now other parents can use the name, which means “light breeze.”

But names that are common in U.S. — Ben, Chris, Christiana, Diana and even Jamie — are on the forbidden list of names in Iceland. The story about Blaer’s fight for her name caught my attention. Coincidentally, I have been coming up with baby names ever since my friend Erica and her husband announced they were expecting a baby. At the gender reveal party, the expecting parents put balloons in a box and wrapped it up in shiny paper. Together, with their toddler’s assistance, they opened the box and let the blue balloons float to the ceiling.

Guests wrote down name suggestions on a posterboard. Some went with traditional names like John Michael. A few wrote down more modern names like Easton. There were biblical names as well. One girl pulled up a list of boys’ names on her phone and started going through the list. A few odd names — like Thor — also ended up on the posterboard. I am positive the superhero name won’t make it on the birth certificate.

Last week, we walked around the track at Princeton Senior High School. The conversation began with possible boy names for the new baby. There was no mention of Thor. I like names, always have. The task of selecting a name has always been a challenge — from pets to dolls. I can’t image the responsibility of naming a child. Maybe one day.

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