Saturday, May 10, 2014

Baby Names: There's a LAW for that??

Even Germans grumble about the fact that there seems to be a law in Germany for everything. Their cars have to go to the TüV for a check-up every two years. They can't disturb the peace by mowing their lawns or tossing bottles in recycling containers on Sundays or holidays. From April through September, renters may only grill once a month on their balcony or terrace. They may not cut down their hedges or trees between March and October because of the disruption to birds' nesting habits. And there is an institution which checks and validates their selection of names for their babies.

The Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache (GfdS), which translates to "German language Association," is responsible for ensuring that parents are using their heads when they name their children. A name that is chosen and submitted by parents for a birth certificate can actually be rejected, and thank goodness for the children's sake.

The American actress Gwyneth Paltrow named her daughter Apple in 2004. I just read that several unfortunate children were named Hippo, Jedi, Burger, Mango, and Thunder in 2012. That would not fly here in Germany. Parents need to give their children names for humans, not fruits, trees, weather conditions, or wildlife.

The following conditions must be met before for the GfdS to approve a name selected for a baby:
  1. The well-being of the child is of utmost importance (Asswipe would not work, even if it's pronounced
  2. The gender of the child must be clear through the name (Chris doesn't work, because that could be Christine or Christopher).
  3. The name must come from a serious source (Superman doesn't work. Even though that's a recognized name, it's a name from a comic book, which is not a serious source.).
  4. The name must resemble a real name for a human (Apple doesn't work because it's a fruit).
Regarding the gender of the child, Apfel (Apple) actually should be allowed, since because of the crazy German gender-based nouns, Apfel is clearly masculine. But since Apfel/Apple would break all of the other regulations, it has no chance as a name here.

The most common names for 2013 did not change much from previous years. Variations of Sophie and Maria take up the first five slots for girls' names followed by Emma and Hannah/Hanna, and Maximilian is back at #1 for boys followed by Alexander, Paul, and Luca/Luka. Names from our grandparents' generation are making a comeback, and Islamic names are gaining as well.

The following names, however, were rejected:
  • Maybe
  • Danger
  • Superman
  • Störenfried (Troublemaker)
  • Motte (Moth)
I'm sorry, but...WTH???  What is wrong with those parents? Do they not think ahead?
"Come here, Maybe!"  "If you don't eat your peas, Maybe, you won't get dessert."  "I love you, Maybe."
Parent hollering for lost child at EuroDisney: "Danger?  Danger!? Where are you?!  DANGER!!!"
Policeman to witness: "Did you see who the driver was?"  "Yes, Officer. It was Superman." 
On the phone: "Hello, Herr Schmidt. This is Troublemaker. May I speak with your daughter?" 
"Hello, Mr. Future Employer. My name is Moth."

The institution is, however, not infallible. In 2013 one couple requested "Yoda" for their child, and it was accepted. Strangely, this is almost appropriate, since Yoda's word order is occasionally a bit like German:
Normal German: "Klug bist du nicht."                Yoda in English:  "Smart are you not."
But seriously, that poor kid better not turn out to be short or have big ears, or he's in for a childhood of horror.

No comments:

Post a Comment