Iceland stands by Lucifer name ban

By News from Elsewhere... found by BBC Monitoring

Image source, Melanie Stetson Freeman/Getty Images
Image caption,
The naming debate is a matter of controversy

An attempt to name a child after the Devil has won no sympathy from Iceland's official naming committee, especially as it is the second attempt in recent months.

The committee said it would not add "Lusifer" to its official register, because it "is one of the names of the Devil, and could cause embarrassment" for the child in later life, the RUV public broadcaster reports.

The Naming Committee faced down a similar request in November, banning the name "Lucifer" because it violates the requirements of the Personal Names Act "through its Satanic association and the fact that the Icelandic alphabet does not have a letter 'c'", the Morgunbladid daily reported at the time.

The latest bid sought to bring the name into line with the linguistic rule by spelling the name with an "s", to no avail.

The Naming Committee is one of a number of institutions charged with safeguarding Icelandic tradition, in this case by ensuring that personal names accord with the rules of the language, which has changed remarkably little since the early Medieval sagas.

One unusual aspect is that Icelanders rarely have real surnames, but instead use the patronymic system, by which children take their father's or sometimes their mother's first name and add "son" or "dottir" (daughter).

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The longstanding policy of minimising foreign linguistic influence extends to words for new forms of technology and even the names of horses.

But the rules on personal names have come in for some high-level criticism in recent years, with former Reykjavik mayor Jon Gnarr and former justice minister Olof Nordal condemning them as both obsolete and inconsistent.

A case of a mother not being allowed to call her daughter Blaer, despite several precedents, dragged on for years and made the news outside Iceland, but one of three members of the Naming Committee has tried to stand up for the institution.

Linguist Johannes Bjarni Sigtryggsson told the Reykjavik Grapevine news site that the Personal Names Act is often difficult to interpret, and warned that without it the "Icelandic patronymic tradition could disappear within decades".

Image source, Tolga Akmen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Image caption,
Icelanders are proud of combining tradition with modernity

Reporting by Martin Morgan

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