Icelandic Names

Culture, Language

Today’s New York Times article about how Swedes are choosing new names for themselves probably belongs in the large folder of non-trend trend articles in the Times. (“Last year, there were 7,257 name changes” out of a population of over nine million…) But be that as it may, it gives me an excuse to link to my favorite story from the Lonely Planet guide to Iceland:

It’s also forbidden to bestow non-Icelandic or foreign-sounding names upon Icelandic children. Even foreign immigrants must take on Icelandic names before citizenship will be granted. The only exception ever made was for conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy (which led a subsequent immigrant to request the new Icelandic name Vladimir Ashkenazy’!).

(Thanks to John Emerson for pointing out the percentages.)