Friday, January 30, 2009

Achtung Baby: "Whoopi" Banned In Deutschland/Germany.

The Last Thing - well, nearly the last thing - that I would ever want to blog about is babies.

Ah, but this blog isn't so much about babies as it is an interesting look at the Legal Trouble that soon-to-be sleep-deprived parents might run into when trying to register that Perfect Name for their little bundle of... er, Joy.

"To Be Or Not To Be... One of the Many?"
In the U.S., the names Sophie, Hannah, Violet and Emma are enjoying rising popularity. Yes, they are pretty names... But...

Speaking as someone who - at times - shared the same first name with three other girls in the same classroom... For me, at least... It Sucked.

I've disliked my moniker enough that I've been planning on legally changing it for years.

What's stopped me?
Concern that my parents might feel slighted... mostly. That... and I want an uncommon name. One that - whenever I or anyone else says it - feels like it is Really Me. Something lyrical... a name whose letters roll and flow as naturally as the tides. I might even check out the numerology of the letters involved.

Oddly enough... I found out several years ago that my Artist Mother acctually had wanted to give my brothers and I much more interesting names. But, my Conservative Father rejected the idea of "... weird names."

So, currently (and, hopefully, temporarily) I am a weird grrl with an annoyingly common name.

But... Thank Goodness I was born here in the U.S. of A.... Here, at least, my parents and everyone else's have the freedom to make their own name choice.
Thankfully, they didn't go the Biblical route. But, they could have... (I shudder to think.)
They also had the option of giving me an uncommon or simply a non-gender specific name.

This Particular Freedom is not specifically cited in the Our Constitution, but it's here... we definitely have it.

Uncommon or Invented name-loving parents aren't so lucky in some other countries.

Achtung Baby!

Unique... Original... Non-gender specific Baby Names are OK in America...

But, if you happen to live in Germany and you decide that you want to name your newborn child something uber unusual...
Like, say: "Whoopi". (Based on True Events.)

Don't call-in a rush order on the birth announcements just yet.

After parents in Germany come up with their newbie's new name... they have to register the name... or, attempt to register the name with the Standesamt (Office of Vital Statistics).

The Standesamt makes the final decision as to whether or not the name is an acceptable one Appeals may be attempted for rejected names, but they cost Euros.

Oh, yeah...

As for the once ecstatic parents who wanted their babe named: "Whoopi"...

The whimsical name was rejected by Standesamt officials.

That's too bad.

Maybe those officials have never heard of this woman...


Name choices have long been agonizing for some parents. In Colonial times, it was not uncommon for parents to open the Bible and select a word at random -- a practice that created such gems as Notwithstanding Griswold and Maybe Barnes. In some countries, name choices are regulated by the government. France passed a law in the early 1800s that prohibited all names except those on a preapproved list; the last of these laws was repealed in 1993. In Germany, the government still bans invented names and names that don't clearly designate a child's sex. Sweden and Denmark forbid names that officials think might subject a child to ridicule. Swedish authorities have rejected such names as Veranda, Ikea and Metallica.


"German law mandates a baby name must reflect the sex of the child, and not endanger the well being of the child. Once a baby name is chosen, the expectant parents must register the name with the Standesamt. The Standesamt relies on a guide book which translates to 'the international manual of the first names'. The manual is referenced for making decisions on whether a baby name is acceptable. If additional information is needed, a German official will research the name which may necessitate calling a foreign embassy for additional information.

If the Standesamt rejects a proposed baby name, German parents may file an appeal. Should the parents lose the appeal, they will have to submit a different baby name. Since there is a fee for each name registration, having a baby name rejected will cost you additional Euros.

The Standesamt's website lists recent baby names decisions which went through the appeal process. The name 'Matti' was recently rejected as a baby boy name because the name did not clearly identify the gender. The name 'Calotta' was recently rejected because it was similar to the French word 'Calotte' which means cap. But, the Standesamt ruled the names 'Legolas' and 'Nemo' were acceptible baby boy names.

German baby names tend to be quite traditional in nature, and this may well be due to the process in which Germans must choose a baby's name."

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