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January 25, 2005

Naming names: France enters the 21st century


A few months back I touched on the curious rigidity of otherwise quite free Denmark in how it strictly regulates and specifies children's permitted first names.

Now I find that only this past New Year's Day did France finally abolish its centuries-old law that parents must give a child the father's last name.


Le Figaro called the new law a "societal disruption."

The Roman Catholic newspaper La Croix wrote, "This reform – we decree it silliness without a name."

The new law allows couples to give babies either the mother's last name, the father's last name or both names in the order the parents choose.


The statute has 26 articles and is over 100 pages long, so detailed are its prescriptions.

The reform is important primarily because of France's changing demographics: 45% of French children are born to unwed mothers at present.


You can read more in Elaine Sciolino's story, which appeared in last Thursday's New York Times.

January 25, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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