Swedes seek new surnames in record numbers

More Swedes than ever before are applying for new surnames, with some looking for something new, while others hope to invoke a sense of old-fashioned nobility.

So far this year, Sweden’s Patent and Registration Office (PRV) has received 7,183 applications from people looking for new last names.

The agency reckons that final figures for the year will surpass last year’s total of 7,500, reports the TT news agency.

“Many want to get rid of their ‘-son’ name, while others want to have a more Swedish sounding name,” said PRV’s Jan Ekengren to the Aftonbladet newspaper, referring to one of the most common endings on Swedish surnames.

Ekengren added that nearly 20 percent of applicants apply to have completely new names registered with the agency.

“Many take the opportunity when they get married, especially if both have a ‘-son’ name,” he said.

“There are also a lot who choose names that are a little new-agey.”

Examples given by Ekengren of approved surnames with a new-age flair include Soldikt (‘Sun-verse’), Clintsol (‘Hill top sun’), and Skogshjärta (‘Heart of the forest’).

Another popular trend for those seeking to cast off their common Swedish name is to seek a name echoing those of the old Swedish nobility, such as Silfwerflyckt, Stiernhoff, and Ridderton, all of which were approved by PRV in 2008.

Others, however, see a name change as a way to help them blend in with the Swedish masses, giving up a name which sticks out in favour of something less distinct.

“Some who have foreign-sounding names change to something that sounds more Swedish,” explained Ekengren.

“Some choose a compromise and change to Mohammedsson.”

Currently, PRV approves about 99 percent of new surname applications, but that may change in the future as Sweden’s naming laws are currently under review.

Proposed changes include accepting double last names, as well as allowing newly created surnames which are very similar to already existing names.

According to PRV’s current rules, new names must not be offensive, must not be a commonly recognized foreign surname, or spelled in a way which isn’t appropriate for a surname in Sweden.

According to TT, examples of names rejected for those reasons include Anncoccozz, Brunstgnägg (‘Mating bray’), and Donadoni.