Nicholas Cage would not have been able to name his kid Kal-El (Superman‘s name on the planet Krypton). Frank Zappa (Mothers of Invention) would not have been allowed to name his children Moon Unit, Dweezil, and Diva Muffin. Sylvester Stallone could not have given his offspring the moniker of Sage Moonblood. That is, if these celebrities had lived in Iceland.
Like a handful of other countries, including Denmark and Germany, Iceland has a bureau that is in charge of making sure that children are given appropriate, traditional names. In Iceland, there could never be a LaToya (as in the Jackson family), a Beyonce, or a LaMichael (as in the team that finished second in the Super Bowl). In fact, Iceland’s rules are so strict that a child cannot be named Christa or Caroline because the letter “c” is not part of Iceland’s alphabet.
The issue of Icelandic names came up last week when the Reykjavik District Court ruled that a 15-year-old girl could use the name that was given to her by her mother. The name is Blaer, and, in Icelandic, it means “gentle breeze.” The girl’s mother told the court that she didn’t know that Blaer was not on the approved list of names for girls. However, it’s all right for boys. Go figure. (Incidentally, until 1984 in Belgium, parents had to choose the name of their child from a list of 1,500.)
Until now, Blaer has been referred to in official documents as Girl Bjarkarsdottir (dottir = daughter). However, her mother (who is married to her father) is named Bjork Eldsdottir. If Blaer has a brother, his “last” name would be Bjarkarsson. So, in a family of four, there would be four different last names: Bjarkarsdottir, Eldsdottir, Bjarkarsson, and Thorsson (the father's name). That’s the way it works in Iceland...