So, what’s in a name? In Iceland, quite a lot. Not only do names here give information about a person’s father (or mother, increasingly), but they are also strictly controlled by the Icelandic Naming Commission, which has the power to decide which names are legal for new parents to select for their newborns. (You probably heard all about the Naming Commission recently with the case of fifteen year old Blær Bjarkardóttir (that’s a matronymic, FYI), who was, up until this year, referred to as “stúlka” (girl) on all her official documentation, because of a dispute over the legality of her name.) Names are a subject of continual interest to Icelanders, and accordingly, the focus of a lot of statistical study.
We recently read an article about Blær’s court case in class, and then I also an reported on this year’s most popular names and general naming trends for the Grapevine. These endeavors lead me to a part of the Hagstofa Íslands (Statistics Iceland) website which I had previously not seen, as they aren’t linked to on the English-only pages.
(I’ll pause briefly just to say that if you are at all interested in esoteric data about Iceland, there is actually a rather lot of fascinating information on the English version of Statistics Iceland, from naming statistics and the number of marriages and divorces there have been since 1951, to the number of overnight stays in Icelandic hotels (broken down by citizenship, even), and the number of books which were published between 1999 and 2010, to how much waste was generated by Icelandic households between 1995 and 2011. Suffice to say, this office produces a wealth of information, publishes a great deal in English, and it is fascinating.)
Anyway, when searching around the Hagstofa website, I ran across a feature called “Hve margir heita?” Or, “How many are named?” This page will allow you to enter any name (first/given names) and find out how many people in the country share it. The resulting statistics are based on the number of people (living, I believe) who are registered with a particular name in the national registry, and also account for whether the name is a first name or second (hyphenated or double names are the norm in Iceland).
So, from this clever little tool I can tell you that as of January 1, 2012, there are three people with the first name Larissa registered in Iceland (no one has Larissa as a second name). And there are five people who have the name Larisa (one ‘s’). And there are 26 Marks (first name), and 22 XX-Marks (second name). I’m not sure if Mark and I are actually included in these statistics, since I don’t know if people who do not have permanent residency or citizenship are included in the national registry or not. (Can anyone clear this up for me?) But either way, I found it very exciting.
And if you just haven’t had your statistical fill yet, there’s another fun little tool. You can see how many people have a specific birthday, too. So now I know that there are 892 people (again: living, I presume) who have a May 8 birthday and nine of those individuals were born in 1984, like me.
Great fun, eh?