Expat Magazine

Baby Named Daemon? French Government Intervenes

By Sedulia @Sedulia

Today there was a curious story in the news. It seems a family from northern France is very fond of the TV show Vampire Diaries. When their son was born, what could be more natural (as the French say) then to name the boy Daemon, after the show's character Damon Salvatore?

However, the French government authorities did not see it that way. There is a regulation saying "When the given names or one of them, either alone or combined with the other given names or the surname, appear to the civil registry official to be contrary to the child's interests, he immediately tells the Procureur de la République (a judge at the national level). The Procureur can then turn the case over to a family court judge, who can require that the name be "suppressed" from the registry. The family court is even allowed to choose the child's new name if necessary.

It wasn't always this way. Until less than twenty years ago, the government could simply forbid any name from being registered that a local official believed was bad-- unless the parents came up with proof it was a real name with a history in France or in their family. This was not just a French quirk-- in much of Europe the same thing was true. Not too long ago the province of Quebec turned down the name "Spatule" [spatula] for a child. A new regulation came into effect in 1993 that turned the rule around: now most names were allowed, but names considered "difficult to bear" are still preventable. Some of the names refused make you see the point of the rule: Babord and Tribord for twins [Starboard and Larboard], Babar, Clitorine, Némo, and Digimon and Pokémon for twins. Adolphe is also not allowed.

The officials point out that in twenty years, when the baby is grown, no one may remember the TV series, but the name Daemon (which sounds like Demon in French) will only remind everyone of the Devil. 

The parents say that when they consulted him, the local priest had no problem christening the child Daemon. "He said that all children belonged to God," the father told a reporter.

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