Norway won't let child have 'foreign' name

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18:28 CET+01:00
A proud mother and father in Stavanger in south-western Norway have had the joy at the arrival of their new baby girl somewhat tempered by the authorities’ inability to register her name.

Mother Anna Drangeid Risholm told local newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad she wanted baby Livia to grow up with the last names of both her parents.

But the surname of the 7-week-old's Spanish father, Juan Carlos Carpio Patiño, proved too much for a population registry that can’t handle most diacritical marks.

This means the baby now goes by the name Livia Patino Risholm in all official documents, much to the consternation of her mother.

“Patino is a completely different name from Patiño. It’d be like calling me Hanna instead of Anna,” she told Stavanger Aftenblad.

The tax administration tasked with registering people’s names admitted it had been caught off guard by the arrival of so many immigrants to Norway in recent years.

“Some foreign symbols are accepted but only very few,” local population registry chief Inger Hageberg Øvrebø told the newspaper.

The only non-Norwegian letters that currently pass muster are Ä, Á, É, È, Ô, Ö and Ü. One tax agency boss said the introduction of more new symbols was fraught with its own set of problems, since this would vastly increase the likelihood of typing errors.  

Hageberg Øvrebø hopes the list can soon be expanded but said it was expensive to add new symbols to the agency’s ageing system.

But she also stressed that it would remain difficult to keep everybody happy, citing her own name as an example of the problems the authorities face.

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“My surname is never spelled correctly when I’m out travelling. And I would have had major problems if I’d tried to register Øvrebø abroad,” she told Stavanger Aftenblad.

That's scant consolation for Anna Drangeid Risholm, who still can't quite believe her daughter has been given the wrong name.

"I thought it was some sort of mistake," she told the newspaper. "With so many foreigners in the country, it's silly that they can't have their own family names."

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