The Cases of Gnarr, Skaði and Blær – The Name Committee, A follow-up

Following a recent report from Icenews about Mannanafnanefnd, the Personal Name Committee and the Icelandic naming system, here are some examples of what the name committee deals with and three examples of names it has recently approved in spite of initial denials.

A famous recent case was that of former mayor of Reykjavik, Jón Gnarr, who had fought the committee to be allowed to drop his original last name “Kristinsson”, linking him to his father, as is custom in Iceland, and replacing it with “Gnarr”, he was finally allowed the transition last year.

Another recent approval by the committee is the female name Skaði. This is news because grammatically the word follows the week declension by case of a masculine word and would therefore not qualify as a female name. In modern Icelandic Skaði means damage, however according the Nordic Mythology and tradition the name is female, Skaði is the goddess of Hunting, wife of Njörður and stepmother of Freyr and Freyja so one would think that her name should be allowed to live on.

The case of Blær Bjarkardóttir Rúnarsdóttir however has no such mythological reference. Blær is a masculine noun and it means breeze or light breeze. Blær’s mother fought the committee fiercely for years, the committee maintained that it could only be a male name but Blær’s mother argued among other things that the Nobel prizewinning author Halldór Laxness had a female character called Blær in one of his novels and that it should be a name for both sexes. In January 2013, the Reykjavik district court ruled in the family’s favor overruling the naming committee, finding that Blær could in fact be both a man’s and a woman’s name. Until then the girl had been without name, The national registry and her passport registering her as Stúlka Bjarkardóttir Rúnarsdóttir, or simply: Girl, daughter of Björk and Rúnar.

There are many more, many are rejected but slowly the flora of Icelandic names grows under the watchful eye of Mannanafnanefnd.