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Q: My German friends tell me that when their child is born, they must abide by certain rules in naming their baby. What’s up with that?

A: It’s true, the child’s first name must be registered with the local Standesamt — the office of vital statistics. And if authorities there don’t agree to register the name you’ve selected, you’ll have to choose again.

By German law, a child’s name has to meet two conditions. It must reflect the sex of the child and it must not endanger the well being of the child.

So, on that note, a kid named Dale might be either a boy or girl, so that would probably be nixed. And a kid named Gertrude might face the wrath of her schoolmates — in this day and age. Please try again.

Or so the thinking goes.

There is some leeway, apparently, for families in which one parent is of foreign descent — say, a German woman married to an American man. In such a case, some consideration may be given to naming traditions in the spouse’s homeland.

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