Swedes to get more name-changing freedoms

Sweden may give its citizens greater leeway in changing their surname, but will still protect rare names including aristocratic families, if the government decides to push for a new proposal presented on Tuesday.

Swedes to get more name-changing freedoms

Justice Minister Beatrice Ask welcomed the reforms presented to the Swedish government on Tuesday by a committee (Namnlagskommittén) tasked with looking at potential reforms.

Among other things, the committee suggested that rules be eased for people wishing to have two surnames. Ask said such a reform would help women in particular who wanted to add their husband’s name to their maiden name.

“The most important thing about the proposal it that it makes things easier for people, as you would remove a lot of obstacles,” Ask told the TT news agency.

Swedes would also be given more freedom to swap surnames to completely new ones, as long as there are more than 2,000 people who use their desired names. Doing so would open up the field for people wanting to take more common names such as Andersson or Bergström.

Name researcher Eva Brylla, who took part in the committee, said that the proposal would lead the way to a modernized legislation.

“There’s more freedom to chose, people who want a very common surname can take it,” she told TT.

“It’s also good that people can have two surnames, instead of having one as a middle name which has just caused problems.”

Yet the proposal did not solely propose deregulation. It also recommended that there be more cohesive rules for names in order to avoid certain illegible or troublesome combinations of letters and numbers. The underlying motivation, which has previously guided much of Swedish name legislation that gives the authorities the right to veto parents’ choice of names for their children, is to protect children from comical and repulsive monikers.

The proposal also said Sweden should keep its protection of surnames that are very closely associated with one family, for example certain aristocratic names such as Gripensvärd, Lagersparre och Nordenstjerna.

The committee noted a rise in Swedes wanting to adopt rarer, family-specific names and said Sweden should not encourage the trend. In addition, certain well-known names where there are no surviving family members to carry the name on should be protected, the proposal suggested. Committee chair Olle Abrahamsson said there was a need to protect Swedish cultural traditions.

TT/The Local/at

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Adolf, Alexa, Greta: These are the names Germans don’t want to give their kids

History, technology and current political trends all seem to have an influence when German parents decide on names for their children, a new survey shows.

Adolf, Alexa, Greta: These are the names Germans don’t want to give their kids
File photo: dpa | Fabian Strauch

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Adolf is the least popular name for Germans to give their children. 

While Adolphus was a relatively popular name in the first part of the 20th century, its association primarily with Adolf Hitler has since made it taboo.

A survey brought out by YouGov on Thursday shows that 89 percent of Germans say it is “unlikely” they would call their child Adolf, although 8 percent still say it is “likely” they would do so.

READ ALSO: What it’s like to share a name with the world’s most notorious dictator

Alexa, the name of Amazon’s virtual assistant, is also rather unpopular, with 79 percent of respondents saying they would probably not pick this as a name for their child.

Kevin, a name strongly associated with the fashion of giving children American names during the communist era in East German, is also now unpopular. Some 80 percent say they wouldn’t give their child this name.

According to a survey done in 2011, men called Kevin also have less luck in finding love online, presumably because of the negative associations of the once popular name.

For girls, Greta seems to be unpopular, with three quarters of respondents saying they wouldn’t use it as a name for their child. YouGov says that “perhaps people have the polarizing climate activist Greta Thunberg in the backs of their minds.”

Asked what they believed has the most impact on how names are chosen, the respondents said that family and ethnic background have an overwhelmingly positive influence.

Politics and current trends on the other hand were seen to have a generally negative impact on the favourability of names.

The survey also found out that Germans are generally very happy with their given names, with 84 percent voicing satisfaction and just 13 percent expressing dissatisfaction.

The results come from a representative study of 2,058 people in Germany between February 12th and February 15th.

SEE ALSO: These are Germany’s most popular baby names for 2020