Illegal Baby Names

Illegal Baby Names
Last summer, the New Zealand government would not allow a baby boy to be named 4real. Several months later, a judge in the same country re-named a 9-year-old girl who was listed on her birth certificate as Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii.

The idea that a baby name could be "illegal" may seem odd to those of us in the U.S., but it isn't anything new in many countries around the world.

For instance, Denmark is quite strict when it comes to baby names. The country has a list of about 7,000 pre-approved names (4,000 for girls, 3,000 for boys) from which parents may choose. If a parent wants to deviate from the list, they need to get special permission, which isn't easy.

(Venezuela -- known for unique baby names like Britnishakira, Edigaith, Madeinusa and Taj-Mahal -- was on the verge of enforcing an ever stricter list of about 100 names last year. The proposed law didn't pass, though.)

Other countries don't draw up lists of specifically approved names. Instead, they create guidelines regarding the types of names that are prohibited. Examples of such guidelines include...

  • No names over a certain length (i.e. 100 characters)

  • No made-up names

  • No brand names

  • No androgynous names (i.e. names that aren't clearly male or female)

  • No formal titles (i.e. royal or military)

  • No names with non-letters (e.g. numbers, symbols, punctuation marks)

  • No names that could subject a child to ridicule

What do you think: should a government should have the power to veto a bad baby name? If so, how "bad" should the name have to be before the government is allowed to step in? What if the name is non-traditional, like "Ikea"? Or unpronounceable, like "Gfbnp"? Or potentially embarrassing, like "Ugly"? Or potentially offensive, like "Hitler"?

Let us know how you feel about these issues in the baby name forum!

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