EXPLAINED: Why so many baby names are banned in Switzerland
These days, it’s not just celebrities who seem to have a penchant for ruining their child’s life by bestowing him or her with an odd moniker. In Switzerland however, there are several rules about what you can - and cannot - name your child.
One such example is what you are allowed to name your kids.
While from time to time, parents’ failed attempt to give their child a unique name might make the news, there are in fact an extensive variety of rules about which names can actually be chosen in Switzerland.
Sticklers for the law as they are, the Swiss have several rules controlling what baby names can be given.
No names which will damage a child’s well-being
Although this appears incredibly difficult to define, there are several actual examples which have been rejected for breaching the well-being rule.
In considering this, Swiss authorities will look at whether “the child will be exposed to ridicule because of its name.”
This includes ‘Grandma’, ‘Rose Heart’, ‘Prince Valiant’ and ‘Puhbert’.
They specifically prohibit giving your kid a name which will damage his or her “well-being”. Names aren’t allowed to be offensive either.
Twins must not have names that are too similar to each other.
The names must not be either spelt or pronounced in the same way.
Swiss media gives the example of calling two boys “Philip” and “Philipe”.
No villain names
Switzerland - or at least large parts of it - remain relatively religious, which is probably why choosing a bible villain name for your child is verboten.
Newspaper Telebasel reports that the name Judas has already been rejected by Swiss registry offices - and will likely be rejected again. Satan, Cain and Lucifer are also banned.
Boys are boys, girls are girls
Ever the traditionalists, Switzerland has tight gender rules for naming children.
Specifically, a name must clearly indicate a person’s gender.
Girls cannot be given a boy’s name and vice versa.
If a name does not clearly indicate the person’s gender, then the child must be given a hyphenated double name or a second name to make this clear.
Numbers or letters
In 2017, a Swiss court said ‘J’ was not appropriate as a middle name.
The court held that allowing ‘J’ would be similar to letting people have a name made up of numbers - although ‘Jay’ a la Homer ‘Jay’ Simpson would presumably be fine.
No place names
While the world might be debating how to cater to non-binary people who want to be identified as ‘their’, identifying as ‘there’ is a big no go in Switzerland.
Place names for people are forbidden in Switzerland.
This may not be interpreted incredibly strictly - Dakota Fanning and Brooklyn Beckham will be OK for now - but if you want to name your little boy ‘Matterhorn’ you may come across some resistance.
No product names either
No matter how much you love a particular product, you will be prevented from honouring the brand by naming your child after it.
That means Ovaltine, Rivella, Chanel or Ferrari are off the table.
You’re also banned from naming your child after a plant or after an animal.
What about foreign names?
One major question - particularly among Local readers - is whether foreign names are banned.
The main question is whether the name appears in the ‘Internationalen Handbuch der Vornamen’ - the International Handbook of First Names.
This book - which does not appear to exist in English - expressly lists acceptable first names.
If it appears in the book, it’s OK with Swiss authorities.
Which names have actually been banned in Switzerland?
Suissebook has listed several baby names which have been banned in Switzerland for breaking at least one of the rules listed above.
In addition to all of those mentioned so far in this article, it includes Bierstubl (place name), Troublemaker (well-being), Mercedes (brand name) and Sputnik (not sure if that is a place or a thing, but either way it's banned).