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Gay marriage leads to new word for “maiden name”


Civil servants who felt that the term “maiden name” might not be appreciated by the participants in an all-male wedding asked the Nederlandse Taalunie (Dutch Language Union) to come up with a new phrase. The Union is not in the habit of creating words but asked around (Dutch) and found out that some people had already started using “geboortenaam” (lit. birth name, and not, as one commenter at the Queerty blog would have it, gay birth name). :-)

An alternative, “geslachtsnaam” (inherited name) was rejected for being cumbersome and old-fashioned, according to the Onze Taal blog (Dutch).

Photo by CarbonNYC, distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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  1. ark says:

    How typically Dutch. In any other first-world company (or even government department) you would find this decision being reached in about five minutes and implemented that same day. But, of course, in the Netherlands this takes countless organisations, endless time and who knows how many people to reach the only sensible conclusion anyway.
    The article suggests that the Language Union had to invent the word “geboortenaam”. Can that really be true? No-one has ever been asked for their ‘birth name’ before, anywhere in the Netherlands? It just wasn’t possible before now? I can’t remember the last time I completed a form in English that asked for ‘maiden name’. Like ‘christian name’ it’s a relic from a long gone past.

    I have read this story from a number of different sources looking for the hidden complication that I am obviously missing but every time I come away feeling that this is just another example of the three most common Dutch personality traits in action – paper pushing, passing the buck and overcomplicating everything to the point of uselessness.

  2. Branko Collin says:

    The Language Union’s own article says that they asked non-disclosed advisers, and these advisers told them that non-disclosed parties had already started using “geboortenaam.” It doesn’t say how many alternatives had been offered by the advisers, and whether these alternatives were in actual use.

  3. Márcia W. says:

    Ark, let´s sit back and wait for the onderzoekscommissie that will take 3 years to conclude that it was nobody´s fault and make some few shy recommendations…

  4. Valden says:

    Why not just stick to their original birth names? O_o

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