Traditional Danish surnames such as Jensen, Nielsen and Hansen could be dying out, as more people change their aliases in a bid to stand out from the crowd. Since new laws were introduced in 2006 making it easier for people to pick their own monikers, over 320,000 Danes have opted to be called by something more exotic than the name they were born with.
The popular trend of changing family names is an attempt to stand out from the crowd and express individuality, according to Katrine Kehlet Norskov. The PhD scholar studies Danish names at the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Scandinavian Research.
In a report by the Copenhagen Post, Norskov said, “There is a tendency to want to be called something that no one else is called.” She added, “You are a bit more special if your name isn’t Jensen or Hansen.”
Around 50,000 people will change their surnames in 2010, according to estimates from the Department of Family Affairs. Before the rules were changed, Danes were not allowed to take the name of either a partner or a relative, reports the Copenhagen Post.
According to Norskov, however, it is unlikely that traditional Danish names will disappear completely any time soon. “I don’t think we’ll see names such as Jensen and Hansen disappearing, although these names could become much rarer in the future if this trend continues,” she said.