Here in America, we have the freedom to make our own decisions when it comes to just about everything. This is especially true of what we name our children — even if there have been some names that maybe should have been banned. (I say that tongue in cheek, as I would not want a government that had the power over something as basic as what I name my child.) I suppose I just feel bad for the person who has to live with an odd name for entire lives, and I think this is one reason that there are some countries in the world that do ban certain names.
So to that end, several countries have created rules. There is even a place where you must choose from a list of pre-approved baby names!
If you find this hard to believe, you are not alone, as my jaw had to be picked up off the ground when I found out about these naming rules from around the world.
Legal names that (maybe) should have been illegal
Again, I would never seriously vote to ban any name: it is not my choice and therefore not my business, but you must admit there have been many — especially celebrity — kids who have been given most unusual names. Just think of having to go through life with a name like Pilot Inspektor (son of Jason Lee), Sage Moonblood (son of Sly Stallone), Prince Michael/Blanket (son of Michael Jackson) or Moxie Crimefighter (daughter of Penn Jillette of Penn and Teller). The excuse for the last one was that nobody ever uses middle names anyway, so why not go nuts?
Last but not least are the poor children of Frank Zappa. Frank went for bizarre with each one of his children who are named Ahmet, Dweezil, Moon Unit and Diva Thin Muffin. In America these names may be mocked but they are perfectly legal — but try naming your child Diva Thin Muffin in New Zealand, and you will find yourself having to pick out a new name.
Banned in New Zealand
Of all the places that ban baby names, New Zealand is at the top of the list. Within the last decade, this country has banned over 100 names, some that would not be considered too unusual in many parts of the world. Names like Duke, King, Justice, Bishop and General have been given the ban hammer, over the concern that they convey a status the holder of the name does not actually carry.
Some names that are a bit more unusual have also been banned including Yeah Detroit, Twisty Poi, Sex Fruit and Fish and Chips. (The last was requested as names for twin boys.) Interestingly, Number 16 Bus Shelter somehow slipped through the cracks, as did Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii — and she ended up in guardianship just so she could change her name.
The name Lucifer, though popular as a parental pick, has been turned down not once, but three times; turned down because if a New Zealander wants to use an unapproved name they must go before the court for permission. Maybe I can see why they will not approve Lucifer, but why the ban on Messiah?
All the government can say is that they will continue to ban names that may cause offense to other or make the child look foolish. I guess I can agree with not making the child look stupid — I mean, who wants to walk around being called Sex Fruit for their whole lives?
Swedish government not a fan of heavy metal
If you are a heavy metal lover living in Sweden, you might want to think twice about naming your child Metallica. After a rather lengthy series of court rulings, this one was finally allowed. Other names previously shot down by Swedish officials are Q, IKEA and Veranda.
Though there is no official ban list in that country, names have to be approved by the tax authority. Not only can they audit your financial records, but they can audit your name choices as well. Some other names that have been rejected are Tequila, Pipeline, and Lillprins (as in “Little Prince”). Also, names that confuse gender identify are also not allowed such as naming your little boy Sarah or your little girl Allan.
While New Zealand and Sweden seem to have the strictest name bans and laws, many other countries have at least a few names that are no-no’s. For example, in Portugal — where you have to consult an 80 page book to see what names are and are not allowed. In Japan, you cannot name your child Akuma because it translates into Devil. If you want to name your child Stompie or Woodstock, make sure you do not give birth in Germany. Thinking of naming your child Monkey or Pluto? If so, do not have him or her in Denmark. If you like the sound of the name Chow Tow (translated means “smelly head”), you will not be able to use it for your baby in Malaysia. And finally, in Italy, you may not use days of the week for names, after one couple was banned from naming their child Friday.
While we should be able to name our children what we want to, and I am glad to live in a country where the choice belongs to the individual, parents should really think of what the name will do to their child. After all, they are the ones who must live with it.
I sometimes find myself wondering what some of these kids are doing now and how they feels about their odd name.
Good luck on choosing a name, and be thankful that you do get to choose!