Court Bans “Nutella” as Child’s Name

April 12, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. overrule /ˌoʊ vərˈrul/ (v.) – to decide against or reject something
Example: The judge overruled the family’s request for another hearing.

2. ridicule /ˈrɪd ɪˌkyul/ (n.) – the act of saying or doing something to make fun of a person
Example: She was often an object of ridicule in her class.

3. registrar /ˈrɛdʒ əˌstrɑr/ (n.) – a person whose job is to keep official records
Example: He asked the registrar to fix his name’s spelling.

4. lenient /ˈli ni ənt/ (adj.) – being not too strict
Example: His parents are lenient on curfews.

5. ground /graʊnd/ (n.) – a reason or basis for something
Example: The court found reasonable grounds to prohibit the given name.


Read the text below.
A French court overrules a couple’s decision to name their daughter after a popular brand of chocolate spread.

The judge concluded that the name “Nutella” will be against the child’s best interests and can cause ridicule. French families are free to choose their child’s name. However, local prosecutors may change the name if they find it inappropriate. The court decided to name the child “Ella” instead.

Birth certificate registrars are required to inform local courts of weird names. Afterwards, the local court analyzes the name and checks if it should be banned. The registrar who recorded baby Nutella’s birth informed a local prosecutor after seeing the strange name.

In previous years, French children were named after Catholic saints. Parents choose the saint with a feast day matching their child’s birthdate. The rule was revised in 1993 and parents now have more options in naming their child.

In the United States, laws on banning names are more lenient. According to a 2011 US study, the common grounds for banning names include obscenity, numerals, and very lengthy names. But, the state restrictions do not focus on the name’s impact on a child.

In fact, a couple from New Jersey was allowed to name their children after a religious group “Aryan Nation” and Nazi Party leader “Adolf Hitler.” In Tennessee, a court judge was even fired for changing a baby’s name from Messiah to Martin. The judge thought that the name, which is a common reference to Jesus Christ, will put a burden on the kid.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you approve of the ban on using the name Nutella? Why or why not?
·         Why do you think the French government ban weird names?

Discussion B

·         If you can change your name, what would it be and why?
·         How do Japanese people usually name their children? Share it with your tutor.

April 12, 2015