1679193015 Why dont people in Iceland have surnames Mysteries of the

Why don’t people in Iceland have surnames? Mysteries of the world

Iceland is a fascinating country whose unique naming system is one of its many quirks. This system is characterized by three distinctive features: the absence of surnames, the impossibility of taking the spouse’s surname, and the requirement to follow certain naming rules when naming a child.

The roots of this system lie in preserving Iceland’s rich cultural heritage and preserving the unique structure of the Icelandic language.

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The country’s naming system is based on conventions that have existed for centuries. Unlike most western countries where individuals inherit family names, Icelanders derive their last names from their immediate parents. This practice is unique to Iceland among its Scandinavian counterparts Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

Men get their surname from their father’s first name with the suffix “son”, while women use their father’s first name with the suffix “dottir”. For example, Icelandic singer Björk Björk is Guðmundsdottir since her father’s name is Guðmundur.

There are some exceptions to this system, e.g. B. when a child has limited contact with parents; in this case, they can take their mother’s first name with an appropriate suffix. Another exception is when a child uses both the mother’s and father’s given names with appropriate suffixes, similar to the western practice of hyphenating surnames.

Why don't people in Iceland have surnames?

For example, musician Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason’s surname reflects his mother Þórey and father Smári. Public figures can also choose a preferred name, as Jón Gnarr did. Additionally, some Icelanders have adopted surnames from immigrant parents, such as actress Anita Briem and former Prime Minister Geir Haarde.

Since 1925, Icelandic law has permitted the adoption of a new surname only through inheritance. For first names, parents must choose from an approved list of 1,712 male and 1,853 female names.

Parents wishing to use an unlisted name must seek approval from the Icelandic Nominating Committee, who will assess whether the name conforms to the grammar of the Icelandic language. In particular, the name must not collide with the linguistic structure of the national language and its declinations.

Since there are no surnames, Icelanders often use first names alongside middle names for clarity. While this may seem rigid to some, the system serves a crucial purpose: protecting Iceland’s cultural heritage, which is deeply intertwined with Icelandic language and identity.

The unique nature of the Icelandic language has encouraged a purism that pervades its structure and is characterized by strong inflections.