German hyphen war reaches European courtPerhaps they meant to ban the 80s hair-metal group Poison. If not, they should have.
By Ruth Elkins in Berlin
Published: 13 November 2005
Every time 10-year-old Leonhard Matthias Grunkin-Paul visits his dad, he loses his name. The boy is the victim of a bizarre act of German bureaucracy that is mangling the identity of hundreds of thousands of people.
The problem: Germany's strict naming law bans hyphens. Although you can hyphenate your name after marriage, you cannot pass it on to your children.
First names are a legal minefield as well. "We had parents in the other week wanting to call their daughter 'Gift'," said Dr Gerhard Müller of the Gesellschaft für Deutsche Sprache.
"The word means 'poison' in German, so it was also a no-no. We have to play by the rules."
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