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Aren't we who live in America, Canada and the UK fortunate, we have complete freedom to name our children whatever we want. Not so in some countries - See article What's In A Name) below:
What's in a Name?
Reuters Feb 23, 2006
LISBON - If Shakespeare wrote Portuguese birth certificates today, he might pen, "A Rosa by any other name is unacceptable."
He might add that Magnolia smells sweet, but that Jasmine, or Jasmim in Portuguese, had best be some other name. If you're still flummoxed about what to call your baby, he might suggest a search under "nomes" at www.dgrn.mj.pt.
Excluding obvious options, like Joao and Maria, the Ministry of Justice Web site details 39 pages of legally acceptable first names, from Aarao to Zuleica, and 41 pages of unacceptable ones.
Lolita, Maradona and Mona Lisa are out, as are Guevara, Marx and Rosa Luxemburgo.
Portuguese registrars have played this role for nearly a century, but now some have asked the Ministry of Justice for a new law that consigns name lists to history.
Portugal is just the latest nation grappling with the increasing complexity of baby names. Globalisation, immigration, human rights and individualism have put pressure on nations with name laws to redefine the concept of "acceptable."
The Portuguese proposal by the Association of Registrars of the Civil Register is part of a programme to cut or simplify burdensome procedures. The Ministry of Justice plans to act in the first half of 2006 on that programme.
"We have proposed alterations in the law such that there can be freedom of choice as long as it isn't offensive to the idea of human dignity," said Maria de Lurdes Serrano, registrar at one of Lisbon's busiest registry offices.
To parents from places with few restrictions on names, like the United States or Britain, such laws can seem odd.
"It was so amazing to me to have to get permission to name my child," said Tanya O'Hara, an American who in 2004 gave birth to baby Liam in Portugal. "It doesn't make any sense."
O'Hara had to get an embassy letter authenticating the name Liam, and make a certified translation of the document.
Name Laws and Freedom
Portugal is not alone in seeking to update name laws. In 2002, Norway replaced its list with a general standard that bans swear words, sex words, negative names and sicknesses.
"I can tell you this is not easy at all," said Ivar Utne, a professor of modern Norwegian at the University of Bergen and the only linguist on the committee that drafted the new law.
A Danish law, that takes effect on April 1, expands approved lists to include names from the United States, Europe and other countries, and allows parents to apply for unlisted names.
The Swedish parliament has commissioned the government to overhaul its Personal Names Act of 1982.
Spain has several name lists, corresponding to regional languages like Catalan and Basque. Registry offices in Germany have an "International Handbook of Forenames," updated in 2002. Argentina has broadened its lists to accept indigenous names.
Even countries without explicit laws have implicitly acceptable names. U.S. census data shows 757 names cover 75 percent of the nation's 295 million people.
Regulated or not, baby names can hurt, experts say.
"What it does is handicap a kid who has to deal with it," said Albert Mehrabian, a University of California professor emeritus of psychology and author of "Baby Name Report Card: Beneficial and Harmful Baby Names."
Some parents are capable of labours of lunacy. Portugal's reject list includes Ovnis. OVNI is Portuguese for UFO.
Danish authorities nixed Monkey and Lucifer. Mehrabian knows of an American named Latrina.
But even conventional names matter.
Mehrabian found people respond differently to names; children with more attractive names are more popular; people with less attractive names fare worse in school and work.
"I believe in freedom," he said. "But if (name regulation) has worked for Portugal for all these centuries, who knows?"
Traditionally in Portugal, parish priests selected saints' names at baptism. The first name law, enacted by the fledgling republic in 1911, replaced priestly whim with a modern regulation that applied to all citizens.
Modifications have allowed names from antiquity and allowed foreigners and non-Catholics to use names from their traditions, as long as they can prove they are authentic ones.
A Portuguese proverb says, "A good name is better than riches." But good name laws can be tricky.
Governments generally like to separate forenames from surnames and boys' names from girls'. There is also the legal swampland of "suitability." In Sweden, the name Twilight had to go to the Supreme Administrative Court before winning approval.
Germany's name law generates so many unresolved questions that there are expert "name offices" in Wiesbaden and Leipzig.
"I receive more than 3,000 questions about forenames every year," Gabriele Rodriguez, from the name office at the University of Leipzig, said in an e-mail.
She provides expert opinions for registry offices and courts and says 40 percent of her queries from German parents are about American forenames.
In Portugal, unresolved questions end up with Ivo Castro, a professor at the University of Lisbon. Castro uses onomastic dictionaries, Web sites and even phone listings to decide.
Since he put approved names on the Justice Ministry's Web site, queries have fallen from around 250 a year to 50.
"Sometimes I feel a lot of difficulty knowing how I can avoid being arbitrary," he said. "In those cases, the most prudent is to make a recommendation for authorisation."
Crissy ♥ mama to Jack 7.16.01 ~ Mia Bella 10.29.02
Angus Pickle 2.24.04 ~ Sydney Bean 10.26.06 & Kater Tot 2.15.09
I know a girl who is American, her H is american, and during her pg her DH took a job in Germany. So, they had the baby in Germany. They named their daughter Chloe, and apparantly all birth certificate names are subject to "approval". Chloe got flagged - they didnt think it was a name & the couple had to justify the name before getting its approval. I think theyd decided on Chloe before ever getting there, but they never took into consideration how germans pronounced certain letters & how most germans would pronounce the name lol. She said when they pronounced it it sounded like someone hocking up a loogie lol.