Who remembers a song called A boy named Sue? Perhaps you’ve met somebody who had one of those names that struck you as a bit weird. Or maybe you’ve dragged your own ridiculous name through the battlefields of institutionalized education like a stone tablet around your neck.
Names should evolve, be colorful, should represent modern day society, but they shouldn’t break the law. In a perfect world, you should be able to name your child whatever you want, right? Sure, but the world isn’t a perfect place, and across the planet, most countries have a list of what you can and cannot call your children. Today, we’ll find out more about Parents who have come up against some legal hurdles and stop signs trying to name their children, in this episode of the Infographics show – Names that are illegal.
In Sweden, names have to be approved before birth and Superman was considered unsuitable by the authorities when applied for. It’s not difficult to see why. High school is tough enough without having the name of a superhero to live up to. And once the marvel can of worms is opened, where would it end? You might have a sister named Catwoman, a nephew named Batman, and a cousin named Spiderman, all in the same class being taught by your teacher, The Shadow.
Norwegians also take names seriously. A mother was jailed and fined for calling her son Gesher, which means bridge in Hebrew. Slightly more controversial were the Turkish couple pulled aside by the name-police after calling their son Osama Bin Laden. This naming occurred shortly after the twin towers attack, and Turkey has guidelines for naming kids that states names “must not be likely to lead to humiliation.” But there were also practical reasons for this particular ban when you factor in the potential delays at airport immigrations across the world with such an infamous name in the passport.
As nutty as it may sound, a French couple decided to name their daughter Nutella after the delicious chocolate hazelnut spread. However a court decided that with such a name, the only thing that would be spread was ridicule, and the parents were advised to shorten their daughter’s name to the one that was a bit simpler, and plainer, such as – Ella.
On examining the newborn register, Mexican officials drew up a list of banned names that included Robocop. So somewhere out there on the streets of Mexico, there’s a kid called Robocop, no doubt keeping citizens safe night and day. On that same list, the Mexican officials also came across the name Circumcision. Unsatisfied with that one, they gave it the chop, along with the wonderfully festive Christmas Day, Burger King, Email, Facebook, James Bond, Lady Di, Rolling Stone, Terminator, and Yahoo.
Some folks in Japan took to calling their blessed little child Devil, or Akuma. Although the Justice Minister stated that “it is not appropriate to instruct parents to change their baby’s names without legal basis,” eventually Japan put a stop to any more little Devils running amok in their country.
A Swedish couple decided a baptism of fire was in order when they named their baby girl Metallica, but tax officials weren’t ready to rock out and told them to change it to something more progressive. Portugal was equally square when they added the name Nirvana to their 80 page list of banned names. Also on their banned list is the classical Mona Lisa, along with Ben Hur, Dylan, Hendrix, Marx, Pablo, Rihanna, Tom, and Viking.
Australians like to keep titles reserved for those with real titles. So the names Queen, Prince, Christ, Judge and Duke are totally out of bounds for the common folk. And over the water in New Zealand, the government quickly stepped in to stop the naming of a child Sex Fruit and again, in they stepped, to ensure 9-year-old Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii had her name changed before the real world came a’knockin.
China doesn’t allow symbols for names and the @ sign had to be declined, despite its popularity. And Saudi Arabia in 2014 outlawed the name Linda for its association with Western culture. Other banned names in Saudi Arabia include Elaine and Alice, names that sound almost plain and boring to anyone from a Western nation.
And finally the Danes also have an approved list, and if you’re thinking of having a baby named Monkey in Copenhagen, forget about it. Also Pluto and Anus don’t cut it in Denmark, just in case you were tempted.
So what’s the craziest name you’ve ever heard? Do you know what are the most popular names in the world?