Hyphenation Multiplication: The Name Police

An interesting front-page article in the 12 October Wall Street Journal describes how all Germans must register their names with the government. Law prevents names that include hyphens or confuse the sex of the named person.

...the rules are meant to prevent German children from being the victims of ridicule or confusion... And why no hyphens? ...the concern is hyphenation multiplication. If a double-named boy grew up to marry and have children with a double-named woman, those children could have four names, and their children could have eight, and their children could have 16. The bureaucracy shudders.

Lest we think that Germans are overzealous on this matter, recall that the person with the longest name was a German named Adolph Blaine Charles David Earl Frederick Gerald Hubert Irvim John Kenneth Loyd Martin Nero Oliver Paul Quincy Randolph Sherman Thomas Uncas Victor Willian Xerxes Yancy Zeus Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorffvoralternwarengewissenhaftschaferswesenchafewarenwholgepflegeundsorgfaltigkeitbeschutzenvon- angereifenduchihrraubgiriigfeindewelchevorralternzwolftausendjahresvorandieerscheinenbanderersteerdeemmeshedrraumschiffgebrauchlichtalsseinursprungvon- kraftgestartseinlangefahrthinzwischensternartigraumaufdersuchenachdiesternwelshegehabtbewohnbarplanetenkreisedrehensichundwohinderneurassevan- verstandigmenshlichkeittkonntevortpflanzenundsicherfreunanlebenslamdlichfreudeundruhemitnichteinfurchtvorangreifenvon- andererintlligentgeschopfsvonhinzwischensternartigraum Senior

Would you want to be responsible for printing his passport, birth certificate and driver’s license?

Tags: Humor, Language

Updated at: 19 October 2005 4:10 PM

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