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Molly Cule
315900.  Mon Apr 14, 2008 10:04 am Reply with quote

LAOS - which doesn't begin with F but is relevant to a question we are talking about.. In the Lao language, the country's name is "Meuang Lao". The Imperial French, who made the country part of French Indochina in 1893, spelled it with a final silent "s", i.e. "Laos" (The Lao language itself has no final 's' sound, so Lao people do not pronounce the word Laos). The usual adjectival form is "Lao", e.g. "the Lao economy", not the "Laotian" economy--although "Laotian" is used to describe the people of Laos to avoid confusion with the Lao ethnic group.

315996.  Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:58 pm Reply with quote

Flash asked me to try and tie up all the threads on Icelandic names. This is a long post, so not meant to be read unless you need to! The posts about Icelandic names under this Foreigners thread are broadly correct (apart I think from a typo in Eggshaped’s 308155 – I think that this should read: It is illegal for foreigners who want to move to Iceland not to have Icelandic names.), but there are a few details that need tying down.

I think that the patronymic naming system is fairly well understood. This system has developed as a shorthand for the historical records that have been kept in Iceland since early settlement (9th Century). The Icelandic word for surname (eftirnafn) means literally ‘identification name’. The Landnamabok (Book of Settlements) lists 435 people as the initial settlers, starting with Ingólfur Arnarson’s settlement of Reykjavik in 875. It is full of descriptions such as:

Chapter I. Eysteinn 'Meinfret,' son of Alf from Osta, settled the eastern Ramfirth Strand next to Blki and dwelt there some winters before he married Thorhild, the daughter of Thorstein the Red; then he betook himself from the north to the dales and settled there. Their sons were Alf, in the dales, Thord and Thorolf Fox, and Hrapp.

Eysteinn is a name. Meinfret is a nickname (in this case meaning foul-fart) and son of Alf gives his lineage. His modern name would be Eysteinn Alfson. The nicknames were common in mediaeval times but have now dried up. The Landnamabok allows lineage to be traced back – in previous chapters you would find first mention of Alf from Osta and this would give his fathers name and so on. Below is a lineage proudly displayed on the web of a present day inhabitant who can trace his ancestry back to Ingólfur Arnason. This is not uncommon among Icelanders.

Patronymics can come from either first or middle name of the father. To avoid confusions (two people with the same name) it is acceptable to also add the name of ones grandfather – e.g. Geir Arnarson Bjarnarsonar for Geir, son of Arnar, son of Bjarni. It is also not uncommon for a child to be named the same as a grandparent –
e.g. Ari Thorgilsson begets Thorgils Arason who begets Ari Thorgilsson (again!).
To confuse matters matronymic naming is also allowed; this is more common now with single parent families. It is legal, though uncommon, to have two surnames in Iceland – patronymic and matronymic.

Traditional Norse names (Thor & Guðrún) have been gradually replaced in popularity by biblical names (Jón, Pétur and Páll). In the late 19th/early 20th centuries Family names (as surnames) gradually became legal requirements in other Scandinavian countries. The Alþing resisted the gradual introduction of family names and actually outlawed them in 1925 (allowing the 300 or so extant family names to continue). (Post 308204)
It was indeed a legal requirement for foreigners taking Icelandic Citizenship to take an Icelandic first name from an approved list. This could be added as a middle name – e.g. John Bjarni Smith. Foreign nationals marrying an Icelander were required to either adopt their spouses family name (if they had one) or to adopt the patronymic from their father-in-law (or matronymic from mother-in-law).

An exception was made for Vladimir Ashkenazy who married an Icelandic lady Þorunn Jóhannsdóttir in 1972. He remained Vladimir Ashkenazy even though Vladimir is not on the approved list. They have five children and the eldest is called Vladimir Stefan (not certain of surname). Ashkenazy must have been mildly irritated when two years later the Icelandic Language Committee abolished the letter Z – dismissing it as an etymological detail! To be fair z is still used by the older generation although it is (and always has been) pronounced the same as s. Another snippet – there are those who think that the two purest races on earth are the Icelanders and the Ashkenazi Jews.

In the early 1990’s a Columbian wished to emigrate to Iceland and became quite indignant about taking an Icelandic name. After much protest he did change his name to Elífur Friður - both bona fide names, but when put together apparently mean ‘Eternal Peace’. He became quite a cause celeb for the ‘No Icelandic Names’ crusade and it was then decided to abolish this requirement (Personal Names Act of 1996).

The Personal Names Act is quite a document. For instance it restricts the number of names allowed (in total, including patronymic) to three per person and the names must be approved (even for Icelandic babies). It also has two paragraphs, one: A forename may not be such as to cause its bearer embarrassment, and another similarly for Family name. Naming is so important that there is a Personal Naming Committee (consisting of a member of Faculty of Philosophy and a member of Faculty of Law at University of Iceland, as well as someone from the Icelandic Language Committee). Obviously there are traditional, cultural and legal reasons for this exactitude about naming, but the inclusion of a language expert points to a more practical problem.

Icelandic is a very complicated language. All nouns decline (as in Latin say) with four cases – nominative, accusative, genitive and dative, both singular and plural. Where Latin has 20 declensional variants, Icelandic has 73. E.g. for Saga:

Sing: Nom. Acc. Gen. Dat. Pl. Nom. Acc. Gen. Dat.
Saga Sögu Sögu Sögu Sögur Sögur Sögum Sagna

Icelandic dictionaries often include the two most irregular – the genitive singular and the nominative plural. E.g. Saga.f.( Sögu, Sögur). Even people’s names decline.

A patronymic name is made up of the father’s name in the genitive case followed by son or dóttir. (In the family tree above this often just means adding an s as in English, but Bjarni becomes Bjarna and Snorri becomes Snorra. Egill becomes Agli and Alda becomes Öldu.) This means that any name must conform to the rules of the Icelandic language. I think the committee do try to be helpful (whilst hopefully keeping out celebrity excesses of Peaches, Lourdes, Brooklyn etc.). In 2005 they did turn down the name Eleonora three times. After much pressure they passed it at the fourth attempt and then resigned en masse afterwards for having done so! Interestingly in June 2005 when Eleonora was refused, they did accept Spartacus.

315997.  Mon Apr 14, 2008 1:03 pm Reply with quote

If you want to make a question out of this, you might go for something like:

Q. To an Icelander, what is wrong with this?

MAGNUS MAGNUSSON. (writing shown as a picture)

A. Just about everything.

Magnús Magnússon was born in Reykjavik. His father was Sigursteinn Magnússon, an Icelandic consul in Edinburgh. His parents adopted British naming conventions and used his father’s patronymic name as a surname. To an Icelander his name should be Magnús Sigursteinnsson. However to add to the incorrectness, even the first name shown above is wrong. Magnus was a name actually rejected by the Personal Names Committee, even though Magnús is an accepted Icelandic name. (Magnús is pronounced Mag-noos and Magnus is pronounced Mag-nis).

There is maybe more fun to be had from Magnús Ver Magnússon, the Icelandic strongman.

319239.  Fri Apr 18, 2008 8:21 am Reply with quote

I've just had a really strong flashback, that Icelandic naming may have been mentioned before.

Something about Stephen telling Alan what his sister would be called if he were icelandic.

Molly Cule
331180.  Tue May 06, 2008 3:37 am Reply with quote

One of the more bizarre activities the Stasi was found to have engaged in was the collection of Geruchsproben — smell samples — for the benefit of the East German smell hounds.

During interrogations Stasi officers handed people a yellow cloth and asked them to wipe an armpit or groin. Then they invented "the smell sample chair". A perforated metal chair with a tray underneath the seat where they put the yellow cloth to collect sweat and scent which dropped down. Apparently they also broke into peoples homes and stole their clothes and underwear.

The fragrances were stored in small glass jars, many of which are on display at the Stasi Museum in Berlin.

The German authorities have recently revived this tactic and started to put together a database of scents, they began with possible violent protesters at the G8 summit who were made to hold metal rods from which their scents were collected.

331192.  Tue May 06, 2008 4:06 am Reply with quote

I always wonder how much of all this stuff is true, though? I’m quite certain that when the new regime took over (indeed, when any new regime takes over, anywhere, any time) it set up a special unit dedicated to fabricating stories aimed at discrediting the old regime.

Meanwhile, I suspect, a lot of the weirdest truths never get told, because “They’ll never believe that!”

333290.  Fri May 09, 2008 8:11 am Reply with quote

The new Lonely Planet UK is out:

no other country is as "insular, self-important and irritating".

"It's a nation that prides itself on patriotism - yet has a Scottish prime minister, Italian football coach and a Greek royal consort,"

"The only certainty for visitors is that however long you spend in England and however much you see, it still won't be enough to understand the place."

But I at least agree with this:

Macclesfield Town against Rochdale on a wet Tuesday night in February - that's a proper football match

...having been to both Moss Rose and Spotland on very wet evenings. There were always good pies in Macc.

333306.  Fri May 09, 2008 8:27 am Reply with quote

yet has a Scottish prime minister

Why would the UK not have a Prime Minister who is from the UK?

333310.  Fri May 09, 2008 8:32 am Reply with quote

Sorry, my bad, it seems to be Lonely Planet England.

Of course, your question still holds.

333313.  Fri May 09, 2008 8:37 am Reply with quote

Britain has of course had a Canadian Prime Minister though - it was Andrew Bonar Law.

It's entirely allowed - Commonwealth nationals legally resident in the UK are entitled to vote at elections and stand for Parliament.

333323.  Fri May 09, 2008 9:15 am Reply with quote

eggshaped wrote:
Sorry, my bad, it seems to be Lonely Planet England.

Of course, your question still holds.

Well, they're doubly wrong then, aren't they? England doesn't have a Prime Minister. Is this a British book?

333324.  Fri May 09, 2008 9:16 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Britain has of course had a Canadian Prime Minister though - it was Andrew Bonar Law.

It's entirely allowed - Commonwealth nationals legally resident in the UK are entitled to vote at elections and stand for Parliament.

Interesting, I didn't know that about Bonar Law. I think there have been quite a few foreign MPs, though.

333331.  Fri May 09, 2008 9:37 am Reply with quote

Foreign born, certainly.

Not sure there have been a great many who were not British nationals at the point at which they became MPs though. (Bonar Law will have been; Canadian nationality as distinct from British didn't exist until 1947, much as he was definitely a Canadian first and a Scot second.)

Gisela Stuart is undoubtedly German, but she's lived in the UK since 1974 and her ex-husband is British. In any case, EU nationals other than Irish aren't allowed to stand for election to the House of Commons, so she must be a British (or Irish) citizen.

Gerry Adams and the like undoubtedly travel on Irish passports and refuse to hold British ones. But Gerry is a British citizen whether he likes it or not - he was born in the UK.

Bryan Gould is coming to husband's mind. He was a Labour MP who hailed from New Zealand, and as a Kiwi national would certainly have been eligible to stand. On leaving British politics he returned to New Zealand, and it's entirely possible that he is not a British citizen.

340923.  Wed May 21, 2008 7:50 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
It's entirely allowed - Commonwealth nationals legally resident in the UK are entitled to vote at elections and stand for Parliament.

suze for PM?

341082.  Wed May 21, 2008 10:31 am Reply with quote

At the risk of coming over all samivel, I'll go for a LOL there.

You'd actually not be the first person on these forums to suggest that I stand for Parliament; the other two were named after a sort of bear and a Caribbean island.

It seems improbable, but at a more modest level I don't rule out standing for Medway Council next time around - it's certainly a matter to which I've given some thought. There are a couple of wards where a candidate standing as an Independent Socialist and with the ability to campaign in Polish might actually win ...


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