(RNN) – Sophia, Aiden, Emma, Jackson, Excel, Cajun, Yoga and Rysk are all names given to babies born in the U.S. in 2012. Classic or crazy, there are no laws to prevent American parents from naming their children pretty much whatever they want.
However, judges have been known to jump in and order a name change. The most recent example is the ruling by a Tennessee judge who changed the name of a baby from Messiah to Martin.
The judge said that the name Messiah was a religious one earned only by Jesus Christ and that it could cause the boy problems in the future. The baby's mother is appealing that decision.
Then there's the infamous Heath Campbell, who gave his children Nazi-inspired names, such as Adolf Hitler Campbell, JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell and Honzlynn Jeannie Campbell.
Three of Campbell's children were placed in foster care after the courts discovered evidence of domestic violence. The children have since been adopted by other families. No word if they've been given new names.
Campbell's new fiancée is pregnant with a child they plan to name either Rommel or Eva Braun, both names with Nazi ties, depending on the child's gender.
Wildly inappropriate names aside, we do have a proud tradition of American celebrities giving their own children peculiar names: Apple, Dweezil, Jermajesty, Pilot Inspekter, Apple, Moxie CrimeFighter, Bronx Mowgli and North, just to name a few.
American parents who don't wish to saddle their child with a bizarre name should turn to their favorite search engine and input "baby naming rules," which will offer links sure to guide them with ease through the demanding world of baby naming.
But where should parents draw the line, if at all? Is it up to the government to decide which names are acceptable? In some countries, it is.
Many countries regulate baby names in one or more ways. Some require that the name indicate the child's gender and even try to prevent the child from facing embarrassment in the future. Others names are restricted by the number or type of characters the national database can accept.
In Japan, there is a list of name Kanji (specific characters used for names) and commonly used characters that parents can choose from when naming their baby. This helps ensure that those names can be read and written easily by the Japanese. It also helps to weed out names that could be considered inappropriate.
In neighboring China, parents can name their child almost anything, so long as computer scanners can read the name on the national ID cards and the character can be represented by a computer. Of the more than 70,000 Chinese characters, roughly 13,000 can be represented on a computer. They also restrict the use of numbers, and non-Chinese characters and symbols in names.
Some European countries place more restrictions on names. A young Icelandic woman recently won a court battle to officially use her name Blaer, which officials claimed was a masculine name. Icelandic naming conventions are strict. The Icelandic Naming Committee has a list of approved male and female names. Names with the letter "C" are not allowed, because the Icelandic alphabet does not contain that letter. They also do not allow unisex names
Other Nordic nations have similar rules. Denmark parents can choose from a list of roughly 7,000 names. If parents want to choose something different, the name must be approved by the government. Norway and Sweden also maintain lists of acceptable names. Names that are considered insulting or unsuitable in other ways are not permitted. Each country has some of its own country-specific laws as well.
The Germans are pretty strict with their baby naming rules. Even the name of their office of vital statistics, the Standesamt, sounds authoritarian. Like some other European countries, German names must indicate gender and can't be perceived to negatively affect the child. The Standesamt does not allow the use of last names, or the names of products or objects to be used as first names for German children. If a parent's chosen name is rejected, they must choose a new name and pay a fee. The Standesamt keeps German baby names in check.
Laissez-faire France relaxed its once strict naming rules in 1993 after centuries of restrictions that limited allowable names to those of a few popular saints.
American parents, name your children whatever you want, but use your power wisely. Some kids can overcome a peculiar name. Ima Hogg went on to be a philanthropist and great patron of the arts in Texas. Winner Lane, on the other hand, ended up with a lengthy criminal record.
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