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These baby names are cute, funny… and illegal

By SCOTT GARCEAU, The Philippine STAR Published Dec 20, 2020 5:00 am

Filipinos love funny names. Some are ill advised, like the couple here that named their newborn “Osama bin Laden” — right after 9/11. (Look it up. It happened.) Sure enough, I bet there will be some people who choose to name their little lockdown offspring “Covid.”

Nomenclature is a tricky thing. A kid can be blessed with a name like Destiny, or stuck with a name like “Scrotum.” That one was on a list of baby names banned by Mexico’s government  — along with “Robocop” and “Facebook” — because they were likely to lead to the child’s “bullying.”

Yes, that’s according to Goodhousekeeping.com, which has compiled a list of “illegal names” people actually chose for their children, gathered from all over the globe.

In Sweden, for instance, parents were blocked by officials after they chose to name their kids “Metallica,” “Lego” and “Elvis.” But — surprise! —the parents went to court to use the names, and they won. However, another joke name — “Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116” — was successfully shot down by the same government. (Try fitting that one on a passport or driver’s license.)

Likewise, the name “IKEA” (all caps, apparently) did not fly in Sweden. You can apparently name your child after pop stars, metal bands and toys — but not a registered company.

You can’t go with oddball food names, either. “Nutella” was banned in France after parents tried to use it. Not because of the corporate name, but because the name would lead to “derision.” Because French culinary tastes are so very high.

Similarly, the Swiss government frowns on using luxurious names like “Mercedes” and “Chanel,” because you can’t use trademarked brands as your preferred nomenclature.

So what’s in a name? Filipino adults regularly keep their childhood nicknames into adulthood — BongBong, DingDong, Peachie, Cherrypie — while some parents, especially in the ‘90s, went further, naming their kids after video gaming systems, Japanese anime figures and the like. Nowadays, out-of-the-box naming is pretty common practice, but back then, it was cutting edge.

Still, even today you can’t get away with naming your child “.” In New Zealand, authorities stopped a set of parents from registering their child’s name with a period mark, which the parents argued was pronounced “Full Stop.” Similarly, using weird shift-level keys won’t fly in China, which banned parents who wanted to name their kid “@” (pronounced “ai-ta,” meaning “love him”) because symbols aren’t allowed in names. Only sign-in passwords.

And remember how George Costanza from Seinfeld wanted to name his son, if he ever had one, “7”? Can’t do it in the US, where numerals are banned as names, as the North Dakota couple who tried to register their baby as “1069” found out. (Ironic, because 1069 wasn’t even a good year for names.)

Nomenclature is a tricky thing. A kid can be blessed with a name like Destiny, or stuck with a name like ‘Scrotum.’ That one was on a list of baby names banned by Mexico’s government – along with ‘Robocop’ and ‘Facebook’ – because they were likely to lead to the child’s ‘bullying.‘

Using regal or religious-sounding surnames is also frowned upon, as New Zealand parents learned when they tried to name their kid “Saint” (even though Kim Kardashian and Kanye West could legally name their kid that in the US). “Prince,” “King” and “Royal” are also out, as is “Duke” in Australia, because it sounds like an actual title. This is what happens when you remain in the UK commonwealth too long.

And in France, calling your offspring “Prince William” is a bit too much on the nose. Using the surname would “lead to a life of mockery,” a set of parents were informed by a judge. Same rationale for rejecting their second choice: “Minnie Cooper.”

Yes, it is tempting to go for a chuckle when naming your children. Filipinos love to go with attention-getting puns, such as “Edgar Allan Pe” or “Jonathan Livingston Sy.” They’ll call their kid “Ben-Hur,” or “Archimedes,” if it will stand out. But think of the shame. Think of the bullying. Even naming your son “Thor,“ as Portuguese parents tried and failed to do, won’t save them from a life of ridicule. Portugal, incidentally, also shot down any non-Portuguese names, issuing an 82-page manual that also includes “Nirvana” and “Paris” on the no-no list.

Malaysia has its share of colorful monickers, too, but since legal guidelines were tightened there in 2006, you can no longer legally name your kid “Snake” (in Hokkien Chinese it’s Ah Chwar), “Smelly Head” (Chow Tow), “Insane” (Sor Chai) or “007.” 

And in Wales, when a mother tried to argue in court that calling her daughter “Cyanide” was a blessing — because that’s the poison that finally killed off Hitler — the courts refused to swallow the Kool-Aid; instead, they instructed the child’s elder half-siblings to rename Cyanide and her twin brother, Preacher. (Guess the parents needed some way to tell the two apart.)

Not sure what it is with New Zealand, but they really like pushing the envelope. And so it was that Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii — an actual name bestowed upon an infant girl — went to family court at age nine to complain about her ridiculous-sounding first name. And the judge agreed, citing “profound concerns about the very poor judgment” of her parents (were they both drunk on naming day?), and allowing Talula to legally change her name. Good for her.

Hopefully, she didn’t go with “Covid.”