Germany: First Names

From Germany, Eugen Solf writes;  The discussion on Imogen(e) is  all the more interesting since we have on and off discussions on names in Germany in various contexts. The law on names has changed recently (not to the better!) so that a married couple can have his name, her name, a third name or double-barreled names (last names). This discussion also came up as we have allowed single-sex marriages (is this the correct word? I am not sure) - a frightening thought as I believe a marriage should be between man and woman and not between men or women. Don't get me wrong: I do not mind having some kind of tax allowance for single sex partners, for example as a safety net for old age or so - this does not make me particularly happy, but do not call this a marriage!!!
The usage for first names leaves many options open: a boy may be called Maria if they have another clearly male first name (I only know boys called ... Maria ... in Catholic families), biblical names with negative connotations cannot be used (Cain, Judas), Jesus or Christ neither, names of towns cannot be used (unlike in other countries) (Cheyenne = yes, Verona = yes, Berlin = no?). There is no boy called Che Guevara, but there are boys called Nemo ("20.000 miles ..., Verne). Toni is a first name whose sex you cannot immediately recognise (short for Anton or Antonia). One of my father's first names was Isao, a Japanese first name since he was born in Japan, clearly not a Christian name.
Most Germans have one or two first names, some have four or five (as my kids do) and on rare occasions you have up to 20 first names but these are certainly not registered publicly, only with their families' individual register. Interestingly enough there is no law as such in Germany for first m so the registrar where you register your child has options as to how your child is registered - mind you, he has fat books to check upon names as I remember well. What many parents do not realise is that a fashion of today is something the child has to live with for his or her next 95 or so years - how many boys are out there who changed their names from Adolf to anything else?
There are some Imogens in Germany, authors, writers, audio-CD-readers, other respectable persons. And then of course there is the: IMoGen GmbH (Institut für Molekularpathologie und Gendiagnostik) but I suspect this is not what we are after ..

Ronald Hilton 2004


last updated: February 27, 2005