Allusionist 87. Name v. Law

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Iceland has quite exacting laws about what its citizens can be named, and only around 4,000 names are on the officially approved list. If you want a name that deviates from that list, you have to send an application to the Icelandic Naming Committee, whose three members will decide whether or not you're allowed it. And if they say you're might have to take things pretty far.

Sigurður Konráðsson, foreman of the Icelandic Naming Committee, explains the committee’s objectives. And comedian, writer and former mayor of Reykjavik Jón Gnarr describes his 25-year fight to change his name.

This episode is part of Name Season here at the Allusionist. Hear previous episodes Yes, As In, about having a name that is more usually a noun or adjective, and Name Therapy, about the issues people face with their names.


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  • Jón Gnarr is a writer, comedian and the former mayor of Reykjavik. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

  • Sigurður Konráðsson is a professor of Icelandic at the University of Iceland, and the foreman of the Icelandic Naming Committee.

  • This episode was produced by me, with music is by Martin Austwick. You can hear his songs under the name Pale Bird.

  • Thanks to Rikke Houd, Jon Hallur, Sarah Geis, Halla Þórlaug and Chris Berube.

- HZ

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