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Aeternitas
Saturday, July 23rd, 2005, 09:04 PM
Why some Danes plan to replace surnames with the patronyms of their horned-hatted forefathers

Starting next April, Danish newborns will no longer be required to share a last name with either of their parents, following the adoption of a new law that allows a return to the Viking tradition of patronymics. Instead of maintaining a single last name across generations, each generation of children, in this system, is given a last name that consists simply of the father’s (or in these gender-egalitarian times, the mother’s) first name with the suffix “son” or “datter” (daughter) added on. Patronymic nomenclature prevailed throughout the country from Viking days and until 1828, when it was banned by law in favor of family surnames as institutions like public education and conscription required that the authorities keep records on large numbers of people. The 1828 law simply froze the process, dictating that new generations would keep the patronymic of the head of the family at that time. The unfortunate result was that two thirds of Danes still carry a limited selection of names such as Nielsen, Jensen and Hansen. (Both the former and current prime ministers are called Rasmussen, and foreigners often wonder whether they are related. They aren't; they're just Danes.
All that may change, however, following the adoption of new liberal naming legislation to take effect next year that, among other things, allows parents to give their offspring a patronymic rather than a family surname. The only change from the days of horned hats and pillage is that parents can also choose to use the mother’s first name with the suffix “son” or “datter.”
Concern for multiculturalism also prompted drafters of the new law to allow for other exotic forms of nomenclature, including Tamil and Arabic patronymics and Slavonic traditions of gender-specific suffixes such as -ski for men and -ska for women.
What allowed the liberalization? Computerized public records that turn people into numbers rather than names. "Names are simply not so important anymore," says Michael Jorgensen, spokesman of the Department of Family Law. "The authorities have other ways of identifying people than by their name so there is no longer any reason to stick to rigid naming rules."
What has made patronymic names practical, however, doesn’t explain what made them fashionable. The revival of Nordic traditions may be a reaction to the cultural impact of globalization. Two years ago, some descendants of the Vikings took another major step into to the past when the pagan Asa religion (http://forums.skadi.net/redirector.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.forn sidr.dk%2Findex_uk.html) was granted official recognition, granting tax benefits to those organizing the worship of Odin, Thorburn and other Norse gods. "It's all the same movement," says Senior Researcher Else Marie Kofod of the Danish Folklore Archives. "In these years, many old traditions are revived because there is a need for it. We live in a complex and material world where people have to create their own identity and perhaps find a new spirituality — and a way to do that is by searching for one's roots."
How far this nostalgia will go is hard to predict. Although the popularity of plays recreating legendary battles (http://forums.skadi.net/redirector.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.viki ngespil.dk%2Fengelsk%2Feu_index.html) and love stories of the Viking era has been increasing in recent years, there are still only a few thousand Danes who attend full-moon services to Norse gods and goddesses and other pagan rituals. And no-one has yet begun building longboats to reclaim past glories. Chances are that the Danish Viking nostalgia will be satisfied with reviving patronymic names.
Source (http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1085814,00.html)

Ulex
Sunday, July 24th, 2005, 12:45 AM
"It's all the same movement," says Senior Researcher Else Marie Kofod of the Danish Folklore Archives. "In these years, many old traditions are revived because there is a need for it. We live in a complex and material world where people have to create their own identity and perhaps find a new spirituality — and a way to do that is by searching for one's roots."
This researcher may unintentionally have stumpled over a most valuable thruth - and the key to the liberation of our people. ;)

Anyway, thanks for sharing this article with us. I was not even aware of this change in the laws on names.

Hansen

QuietWind
Sunday, July 24th, 2005, 04:26 PM
So, correct me if I am wrong, but the new law also allows for Arabic first names to be used and "son" added? For example, we could be seeing people with names such as Mohammedson? Muslims do this already, but in their own language. Ex. Osama bin Laden (Osama son of Laden). Why the need to Europeanize their names? Now we will have little Osamason's running around. I just don't understand the need for multicultural sensitivity that essentially is an integration of them into "our" society. If they want to be sensitive to other cultures within theirs, they should allow for other cultures to carry on their own traditional forms of naming such as the Arabic "bin" and Hebrew "ben". There is no need to integrate two cultures into one, under the guise of "multicultural." Instead, if they want to be culturally fair, they should allow each culture to be independant and seperate, yet allow for seperate but equal treatment under the law. Of course, there wouldn't be a need for complex multicultural directives if these people were not in the country to begin with. ;)

Thusnelda
Sunday, July 24th, 2005, 05:59 PM
Well, this is kind of name-giving is totally common in Iceland. :) It´s the old scandinavian style.

Unlike other nations, Icelanders have continued to use the old-style Scandinavian names, formerly used in Scandinavia but replaced by surnames in recent centuries. In the Icelandic system, there are no actual family names or surnames. A person's last name indicates the first name of the subject's father (or mother in some cases), that is, it is a patronymic (or matronymic). Family names exist in Iceland, and some while ago they existed as traditional surnames which are inherited through generations, but in today's Iceland they are technically middlenames, followed by the parent's first name.

For example, a man named Jón Stefánsson has a son named Fjalar. Fjalar's last name will not be Stefánsson like his father's; it will become Fjalar Jónsson, mentioning literally that Fjalar is the son of Jón.

The same goes for females. Jón Stefánsson's daughter Kata would not have the last name Stefánsson; she would have the name Jónsdóttir. Again, the last name literally means "Jón's daughter". (dottir=daughter)

I like this kind of name giving, it has nothing to do with arabs. ;)

QuietWind
Sunday, July 24th, 2005, 07:29 PM
I agree and I wasn't implying that it had to do with Arabs. What I was asking about was where the above article said:
Concern for multiculturalism also prompted drafters of the new law to allow for other exotic forms of nomenclature, including Tamil and Arabic patronymics
My concern is if they are going to allow names like Mohammedson or is it going to be more like how Arabs currently do it "bin laden." If the new law allows the former, that is fine. I just hope that what the article is saying is not to imply that Arabs will now be giving their children names with "-son" in the name of multiculturalism.

Thusnelda
Sunday, July 24th, 2005, 07:34 PM
Oh, then I have misunderstood you, sorry! :) Of course, your concern is a matter not to be forgotten! (my english again...*g*) I hope only real Danes cwill be able to make the new names, not foreigners...the new system should show the cultural heritage.

An arab with a name like "Gustavson" - oh my god.

KirFrid
Monday, July 25th, 2005, 03:28 AM
That's awsome!All Nordic countries should do the same:guinness:

Lundi
Monday, July 25th, 2005, 12:57 PM
Not sure how it will work in today’s highly populated Denmark but for Iceland it has always worked well and I wouldn't have it any other way :viking1:

Good to see Denmark is recognising it's old roots and customs

Arcturus
Monday, July 25th, 2005, 01:19 PM
I see a dark side to this though... e.g. Ahmed Muhammedsen

Constantinus
Monday, July 25th, 2005, 01:24 PM
I see a dark side to this though... e.g. Ahmed Muhammedsen

Heh, nothing wrong with civilizing the wogs before you kick them out. ;)

Frid
Monday, August 22nd, 2005, 12:58 AM
Jennifer, I recall recently readning about a person named Hemo or Heybet Amedsson. There you have an example of an immigrant (kurd) who have changed his name into a more Scandinavian-sounding one. Amed being a location in Turkey. Incidently he kept his Turkish citizenship when he became a Swedish citizen. In Turkey he is wanted for murder. Sweden didn't hand him out because lack of evidence. When he went to Estonia the police there caught him and now he is in an Estonian prison, waiting to be handed out to Turkey (if Turkey can deliver evidence for his guilt). Kurdish web sites claim that Turkey wants him because he witnessed a massacre and now wants him silenced.