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Court Orders Parents to Change Baby Names

Court: "Might lead to mockery and unpleasant remarks"

No matter how sweet and delectable your new baby looks, it's probably advisable not to name her after a fruit jam or a chocolaty spread. This isn't apparent to everyone, though, so a French court had to step in and lay down the law preventing two families from naming their kids after breakfast condiments: "Nutella" and "Fraise" (Strawberry) respectively.

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Must never be a dull day in the life of a registrar when it comes to reading increasingly unconventional baby names. Imagine the look on the French registrar's face as they read the word Nutella. He then passed word on to the local prosecutor, who had nothing better to do than bring the matter to court.

Acting in the girl's best interest, the judge ordered the name change in case it should “lead to mockery and unpleasant remarks.” And because the parents didn't show up, the court—the court!—went one further and picked an alternate name: Ella.

Ella is a lovely name, don't get me wrong. But how is it up to a court to decide what parents can and can't name the flesh from their own loins? If they want to choose a ridiculous (and by that I mean guaranteed-to-be-ridiculed) name, then that's their prerogative. They will be the ones paying to go to deed poll before the child reaches school age. They will be the town laughing stock, having to console their child every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

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In the case of Strawberry, the parents had a change of heart and sensibly opted for a 19th century French name, Fraisine (which will no doubt see her nicknamed Fraise anyway, so it's a win-win).

Another overruled choice was the French cartoon Titeuf, but Game of Thrones characters, Khaleesi and Joffrey, were fair game.

Even dog owners are not immune from the French name brigade. "Itler" and "Iva," which sounded a little too similar to Adolf and Eva Braun, became "Ilisa" and "Isio" following complaints by the village mayor. My aunt once had a cat with heterochromia named Satan. No biggie.

In an ongoing quest for individuality, parents are going to ever more extreme extremes to coin that original and unique name for baby, whether that means messing with traditional spelling or raiding the kitchen cupboards for inspiration.

So what if we eschew all common sense in the process? Names are harmless fun, er, right? Nutella never hurt anyone...