Names (was Re: Help wanted: arthurian novels

Charles Butler hannibal at
Wed Sep 24 19:00:23 EDT 2003

> Jon
> I do recall reading of a case in France many years ago
> (we're talking 1960s here) were a court refused to
> allow a girl to be given some name (quite a good
> English one as I recall, possibly Marjorie, it was
> from a nursery rhyme) because it wasn't in the Bible,
> the name of a saint or a classical name. This was
> presumably motivated by anti-English language feelings
> rather than religious motives.

Quite possibly. From what I could find on the net (on a Linguists forum,
dated 1991) Marjorie ought to have been allowed under rule 2 (below), though
perhaps that only applies to people with ancestry from the country in

"The French administration requires that children's names be chosen from
some `recognized official source'.  In practice, this means 1) the Catholic
saints 2) whatever lists foreign consulates provide 3) recognized regional
language lists."

I don't know if this law still applies, by the way, nor whether there is
anything similar in force elsewhere - though I seem to remember hearing that
Germany had official lists of names too. Most intriguingly, can anyone say
what the purpose of such a restrictive law might be?


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