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article imageIcelandic naming laws prevent 10-year-old's passport renewal

By Kris Coombes     Aug 13, 2014 in Odd News
Iceland has hit the headlines recently, in quite a bizarre way: apparently, girls from Iceland can't be called Harriet and therefore those called Harriet cannot get an Icelandic passport.
The case in question is that of a 10-year-old girl called Harriet Cardew, who has a British father and Icelandic mother, though they live in Iceland. When they needed to renew her passport, their claim was rejected on the grounds that her name was not on the approved database of 3,565 official Icelandic names.
As a result, Harriet has been granted an emergency passport by the UK, and she and her brother are still currently listed as Stúlka and Drengur Cardew (the names on their original passports), meaning literally "Girl" and "Boy" Cardew, as neither of their names have been approved by the naming committee.
The apparent issue is to do with Icelandic case inflections and orthographical restrictions; that is to say, that certain letters of the Latin alphabet used in the English language do not appear in the Icelandic orthographic system. Additionally, under Article 5 of the Personal Names Act, a name must be able to accommodate Icelandic grammatical inflections and case endings for functions such as grammatical gender, and therefore must be able to change form freely with the demands of the language. Harriet is a name that will not conjugate with gender and case inflections in Icelandic, and therefore is not allowed. This is done to preserve the language.
The father, Tristan Cardew, took a very dim and dry view of the situation.
The whole situation is really rather silly.
This is just one of many cases involving Icelandic names. Last year, Blær Bjarkardóttir Rúnarsdottir won the right to use her name after claiming that not being able to was a violation of the Icelandic Constitution. Even the former mayor of Reykjavík, Jón Gnarr, couldn't escape controversy when he was unable to name his daughter "Camilla" after her grandmother, instead having to name her "Kamilla" due to the lack of the letter C in the alphabet, criticising the procedure as a "stupid law against creativity."
More about Iceland, Passport, Language, harriet cardew
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