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296200.  Fri Mar 14, 2008 2:02 pm Reply with quote

Just listening to Marcus Brigstocke on the wireless and he says that the Dutch use the same word for "when" and "if", so that eg safety warnings in Dutch say "when the plane crashes, assume the position ...".

Don't know if we can do anything with this but it might be worth checking with some of our linguists. Suze, who should we direct this one to?

296201.  Fri Mar 14, 2008 2:09 pm Reply with quote

EDIT of bit unsuited to a publicly readable forum.

I don't know Dutch, but a bit of rather amateurish research suggests that Mr Brigstoke may well be right.

Last edited by suze on Sun Jul 19, 2009 6:56 pm; edited 1 time in total

308155.  Tue Apr 01, 2008 7:16 am Reply with quote

It is illegal for foreigners who want to move to Iceland to have icelandic names; if you do so, you must take a name from the accepted list.

The only exception is russion pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy who was given special dispensation when he moved to Iceland; so "Vladimir Ashkenazy" is now one on the list of acceptible Icelandic names.

s: Lonely planet, Iceland.

308173.  Tue Apr 01, 2008 7:33 am Reply with quote

That's great. We could mebbe ask them to choose their Icelandic names. Have we covered Icelandic naming conventions before (everyone in the phone book being listed by first name, etc)?

308186.  Tue Apr 01, 2008 7:45 am Reply with quote

A thread which discussed Icelandic naming conventions in the Green Room culminated in this authoritative post:
Concerning Icelandic convention in names then it is the usual practice for the children to get their fathers first name as their second. That is if a father is named Jon Hansson, his son would be Magnus Jonsson and his daughter Anna Jonsdottir. But also having a family name is not that uncommon, because of inter Scandinavian relations of old (usually making up the family name or just changing "-son" to "-sen"). If an Icelander were to acquire a family name today he/she would do so through marriage or, if there already is a family name somewhere among close relatives, apply for it. But the rules are rather strict and usually the relative has to be very closely related to you. Also it is possible to get the mother's first name as a second name. That happens usually automatic if a child is born outside marriage, as it happened with my half sister. It can also be requested by application, which I think is getting more and more popular nowadays.

post 243099

Geir Haarde, the current Prime Minister of Iceland, has a Norwegian name - so I don't know how that works alongside egg's proscription against foreign names.

308204.  Tue Apr 01, 2008 7:57 am Reply with quote

He just should have been a socialist with a name like that. He isn't though.

New "surnames" have been forbidden since 1925, but people whose family has been using a surname since before then may continue to do so.

(In English I'm afraid; I couldn't find the same page in Icelandic.)

308325.  Tue Apr 01, 2008 10:40 am Reply with quote

eggshaped wrote:
The only exception is russion pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy who was given special dispensation when he moved to Iceland; so "Vladimir Ashkenazy" is now one on the list of acceptible Icelandic names.

What about Bobby Fischer?

308338.  Tue Apr 01, 2008 11:12 am Reply with quote

I don't think he'd have needed a dispensation for Fischer, since he didn't become Icelandic until 2005 - that Icelandic government link seems to say that people who had a surname before 1991 can keep it.

Robert might have been OK, because I think it's a name that Icelanders have. (I'd check, but I need to be elsewhere very shortly.)

308342.  Tue Apr 01, 2008 11:16 am Reply with quote

So why would Ashkenazy have needed a dispensation?


308391.  Tue Apr 01, 2008 1:49 pm Reply with quote

It's hard writing about Icelandic things without the correct keyboard.

Bjork Gudmundsdottir is the full name of the artist known as Bjork (rhymes with kirk). Bjork means Birch Tree in Icelandic, which could perhaps link to the Icelandic forest thread.

308452.  Tue Apr 01, 2008 4:38 pm Reply with quote

It can be done with a bit of trickery: Bj÷rk Gu­mundsdˇttir.

In the normal Icelandic way, she uses a patronymic - her father is Gu­mundur Gunnarsson (who was reasonably well known in Iceland as a trade union leader). There's no rule against using a matronymic - both men and women are at liberty so to do - but it's considerably less common.

On dr.bob's question, now that I've had time to look properly. Vladimir Ashkenazy needed a special dispensation for two reasons: i) Vladimir is not a given name that they use in Iceland and ii) Ashkenazy is clearly a surname, and since 1925 new surnames haven't been allowed, so he needed a dispensation in order to keep it.

But the Names Act of 1997 (passed by Al■ing in the spring of 1996) removed the need for immigrants naturalized as Icelandic citizens to change their names to Icelandic ones. (See ž6 of this report of the proceedings of a UN summit.) Since Fischer only became an Icelander in 2005, he was therefore able to keep his surname without need of a dispensation. Even without that act, he'd have been able to keep his given name since Rˇbert is a permitted name in Iceland.

See Icelandic language Wiki for a list of permitted male given names in Iceland. (NB - seems that Ashkenazy did indeed get a dispensation; Vladimir isn't on the list.) The girls names are here.

308481.  Tue Apr 01, 2008 5:20 pm Reply with quote

Conversely, until 1997 people in Mongolia weren't allowed to have surnames at all - and when they were permitted to have them, they all chose the same one:
For more than 80 years, everyone in Mongolia was on a first-name basis. After seizing power in the early 1920s, the Mongolian Communists destroyed all family names in a campaign to eliminate the clan system, the hereditary aristocracy and the class structure. Within a few decades, most Mongolians had forgotten their ancestral names. They used only a single given name -- a system that eventually became confusing when 9,000 women ended up with the same name, Altantsetseg, meaning "golden flower." ... In 1997, a new law required everyone to have surnames. ... Borjigin, the tribal name of Genghis Khan, has become the most popular name in the country. It means "master of the blue wolf," a reference to Mongolia's creation myth."Everyone wants the name Borjigin, as if they have some connection to Genghis Khan," said Serjee Besud, director of Mongolia's state library and a leading researcher on surnames."It's like a fashion. But it has no meaning if everyone has the same name. It's like having no name at all." Mr. Besud has spent years poring over the dusty archives of the state library to compile a book of possible surnames for the nameless. ... His book, called Advice on Mongolian Surnames, provides maps and lists of historically used surnames in each region of the country. ... One surname listed in the book, perhaps less fashionable today, is Seven Drunk Men.

post 7667

308675.  Wed Apr 02, 2008 4:24 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
But the Names Act of 1997 (passed by Al■ing in the spring of 1996) removed the need for immigrants naturalized as Icelandic citizens to change their names to Icelandic ones.


<penny drops>

So either eggshaped's copy of Lonely Planet is a bit old, or the writers of said tome need to update their info a bit.

308733.  Wed Apr 02, 2008 5:17 am Reply with quote

I think that the former is most likely.

Did the russian surname stuff make it to air last year? If not, I read in "a book" - it's about festivals, but it's downstairs - that at some stage the Dutch were forced to take surnames, and in protest chose things like "pisses".

Hm, now I read that, it sounds very vague. More detail to come...

308930.  Wed Apr 02, 2008 6:57 am Reply with quote

A couple of the Russian name things were broadcast, yes. I don't think that matters, though.


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