Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Well, the Country Does Sort of Look Like One

A woman who moved to Sweden decided that her first name was too difficult for the locals to pronounce. So she changed it. To Willy.

Then some lover of however-you-say-schadenfreude-in-Swedish told her what Willy can mean in English. So she wanted to change her name again.

But the Swedish government, which legally regulates what people call themselves—names apparently are very important in the land of Dag and Bjorn—allows just one free change per resident.

So she appealed in court, with a succinct legal argument that would make both Oliver Wendell Holmes and John Holmes proud. (And this next sentence is pretty much why we’re telling this story.)

``My name means penis,’’ she wrote.

The court was unaroused. It said Willy would have to pay more than $100 worth of kronor to change her name again. (The new choice: Wendy, indicating that this time a little research was done into English slang.)

On the bright side, at least she doesn’t live here.