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A Reinterpretation of Male and Female First Names in Sweden: Some Socio-Ideological Changes and some Linguistic Traits Relevant to a Reinterpretation of the Swedish Name Law
2012 (English)In: Onoma, ISSN 0078-463X, E-ISSN 1783-1644, Vol. 47, 101-117 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this article I will discuss the change in the interpretation of the part of the Swedish name law (§34) that deals with inappropriate names. The discussion that I intend to run has its origins both in a societal context and in a linguistic perspective. First I will provide a background to the societal changes that may affect the name practice and the Name Law. Have the last 10 years of gender equality and social changes influenced the perception of the first names that are in use? Have the last decade of equality aspirations left traces among the Swedish first names? If this is the case, are there any similar changes in other linguistic areas? Regarding the convention of general language it is the language users themselves who decide what is acceptable and correct, but there are many social forces pulling in different directions, and the acceptance of some groups is always more important than others. But unlike general language the use of personal names is regulated by law, which means that the changes are easier to follow. It is also a choice that is more planned than the use of a temporary word as a name is closely associated with an identity. The kind of first names that I have chosen to study is the gender-neutral names. On the whole it can be said that the period that a name is a unisex name is relatively short. It solidifies often quite fast and is perceived as either a girl’s name or a boy’s name. The socio-ideological equality debate has, in recent years, found nourishment in a queer theoretical approach which questions the existing norm. For many young people, it is obvious that the notion of sex can also be based on social variables. An analysis of the name law of 1983 shows that the impact has not been as transformative for the first names as the previous Name Law was. Meanwhile, the reinterpretation of the existing law has amended the view of first names. There are two ways to explaining the increase in unisex names in Sweden. Either the parents are accepting unisex first names that are not gender-specific, or it is a name fashion that is supported by the names of the children of certain Swedish celebrities. For the former interpretation speaks perhaps the decision of the Supreme Administrative Court in 2009 when a man was allowed to use Madeleine as a first name. Through this verdict all first names in Sweden have become unisex in a legal sense.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Leuven: Peeters Publishers, 2012. Vol. 47, 101-117 p.
National Category
Humanities
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-30098DOI: 10.2143/ONO.47.0.3085141OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-30098DiVA: diva2:889350
Available from: 2015-12-23 Created: 2015-12-23 Last updated: 2016-03-23Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
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  • asciidoc
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