Friday, October 08, 2004


It's like an old Monty Python skit--The Ministry of Silly Names. But Denmark has essentially that; you can't name your child anything you want:
People expecting children can choose a pre-approved name from a government list of 7,000 mostly Western European and English names - 3,000 for boys, 4,000 for girls. A few ethnic names, like Ali and Hassan, have recently been added. But those wishing to deviate from the official list must seek permission at their local parish church, where all newborns' names are registered. A request for an unapproved name triggers a review at Copenhagen University's Names Investigation Department and at the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs, which has the ultimate authority. The law only applies if one of the parents is Danish.

Many parents do not realize how difficult it can be to get a name approved by the government. About 1,100 names are reviewed every year, and 15 percent to 20 percent are rejected, mostly for odd spellings. Compound surnames, like Tan-Farnsden, also pose a problem.

And apparently so does "Molli":
Greg Nagan, 39, and Trine Kammer, 32, thought it would be cute to name their daughter Molli Malou. To their surprise, Malou was not a problem, but Molli with an I, which they thought sounded Danish, had to be reviewed by the government. The church told Ms. Kammer she needed to state in a letter the reason for choosing Molli. She did so, and said she told the clerk, "Here's your stupid letter: The reason for naming her Molli is because we like it."

"Isn't this silly?" Ms. Kammer said. "We love to make everything a rule here. They love to bureaucratize."

As the father of a "Molly" we would have been approved. Of course, my wife's name is "Traci". Good thing she's not Danish...

1 comment:

Greg said...

Thank you for your support, Alan! Interestingly enough, another blogger named Alan seems to think we shouldn't have been allowed to name our daughter Molli.