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Ættarnöfn – eður ei: greining á deilum um ættarnöfn á Íslandi frá 1850 til 1925.

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Allt frá því á nítjándu öld hafa staðið um það deilur á Íslandi hvort æskilegt sé að landsmenn beri ættarnöfn. Þeir sem töluðu gegn slíku í upphafi vildu langflestir halda fast í þann forna sið að fólk kenni sig við feður sína. Deilurnar bárust einnig inn í þingsali þar sem nokkrar tilraunir voru gerðar til þess að lögbinda reglur um eftirnöfn. Árið 1913 gerðist það svo að sett voru lög sem heimiluðu fólki að taka upp ættarnöfn en tólf árum síðar var samþykkt að banna slíkt. Málið tók á sig ýmsar myndir en til dæmis fengu andstæðingar ættarnafna það í gegn að skylda bæri opinberar stofnanir til þess að skrá landsmenn samkvæmt skírnarnafni þeirra. Deilurnar urðu á köflum harðvítugar. En um hvað snerust þær í raun? Voru þetta einvörðungu átök milli þjóðernishyggju og einstaklingshyggju? Og beindist kastljósið að báðum kynjum eða aðeins að nöfnum karla?
The Issue of Family Surnames: Analysing the Debate in Iceland on Family Surnames, 1850 to 1925 Ever since the 19th century, Icelanders have been arguing whether it was proper to use family surnames. Those in opposition wanted to maintain the nation’s ancient custom of bearing a patronymic. There were even several attempts in the Althing to legislate rules on people’s last names, for instance a bill in 1881, never conclusively dealt with, which was meant to curb their increasing use. In 1913, on the other hand, legislation was enacted that allowed people to adopt family surnames, although this was in turn prohibited twelve years later. The disagreements involved further aspects; for example, opponents of family surnames managed to make it mandatory for public authorities to register Icelanders according to their first names, not their last. Public discussion of the matter, which for the most part occurred in Icelandic newspapers and journals, was analysed for this study using the digital library www.timarit.is to find material from the mid-19th century until 1925. At times arguments became heated and involved a wide variety of reasons, such as the need to preserve the language and its ancient naming customs, or to follow the practice of neighbouring countries so they would not begin looking upon Icelanders as savages. The study results show how people’s opinions reflected starkly contrasting attitudes ranging from nationalism to individualism. Generally those who expressed themselves, including most of those favouring family surnames, were very keen to preserve a positive national image. The study also considered gender factors in the debate, which mostly focused on the last names of males since women were not viewed as independent individuals.