Paying for your identity

marca-de-tinta-de-huellas-de-identidad_279-10421I stumbled upon an excerpt from a paper describing the taxation of surnames in Iceland in an effort to prevent people from assuming family names (surnames).

The surname as many of us know it, a family name that is passed on through generations (usually through the male line), is uncommon in Iceland. About 15% of people there have one. The rest bear a first name, followed by a second name which indicates whose son or daughter they are. Telephone books list citizens in order of given name, not surname, which is an oddity the locals are proud of.

In an unsuccessful attempt to stop the trend of adopting surnames, officials in 1881 passed a law that required people to receive royal permission, pay a flat fee, and then an annual fee per syllable of their chosen last name.

I wonder if the very rich, showy types would purposefully choose multisyllabic names, just to prove that they could afford them?

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