RE: Re(2): Terminology problem? (take II)

Subject: RE: Re(2): Terminology problem? (take II)
From: jgarison -at- ide -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 9 Aug 2002 13:28:05 -0400

Thanks for the clarification, Jan!

I heard this a while ago, and thought that it was a national rather than
local board. Still, it's a rather foreign concept to us provincial

John (Jan!)

-----Original Message-----
From: Jan Henning [mailto:henning -at- r-l -dot- de]
Sent: Friday, August 09, 2002 12:18 PM
To: TECHWR-L; jgarison -at- ide -dot- com
Subject: Re(2): Terminology problem? (take II)

>In Germany, unusual names have to be approved by a national naming

That's news to me (as a German). Although I never delved too deeply into
the subject, this is how I always understood that it works:

If you get a child, you go to a registrar (Standesamt) where you tell the
officials that you have a child and what you want its name to be. There
are a few general rules (such as that the gender must be clear from the
name), and the registrar can refuse to accept names that are too excentric.

The registrar is a local (city or county) institution, though. If you
want to appeal their decision, you need to go to court - there's no
national commission or something similar.

The system has its pros and cons, but one thing it does not do is prevent
names where the issue of first and last names is confused. Just look at
my own name: both "Jan" (my first name) and "Henning" (my family name)
are commonish first names in Germany. It does prevent you, however, to
give your child a last name as a first name that isn't commonly used as
such (say, "Schmidt", our equivalent of "Smith").

(Oh, and in case you wondered: It is very difficult to change your name
in Germany other than through marriage or adoption. A good specific
reason is always required.)

Jan Henning

Jan Henning
Am Schlossberg 14, D-82547 Eurasburg, Germany

Phone: +49 700 0200 0700, Fax: +49 8179 9307-12
E-Mail: henning -at- r-l -dot- de, Web:

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