6 Nov, 2022 @ 12:00
1 min read

Spanish judge rules parents can’t name child with Basque word for ‘semen’

Heroic police officers save life of unconscious baby in Spain's Valencia
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A FAMILY in Spain’s Basque Country has vowed to take legal action after a judge refused to allow their newborn daughter to be named Hazia, which in the Basque language means “seed” but is also a word for “semen”. 

By order of the magistrate, the child has been given the name Zia, which also means “seed” in Latin.

Under Spanish law there are limits to the free choice of a name, including “names that are inconsistent with the dignity of the person”. This is the argument used by the judge in the city of Vitoria to refuse to respect the parents’ choice of moniker. 

The family, meanwhile, is incensed by the decision and told Spanish daily El País that it would “fight until the last” to see their daughter’s name on official documents as Hazia.

In the wake of the row, the newspaper El Periódico found that 96 citizens in Spain actually have the first name “Semen”, a word that is the same in Spanish and English. Of these, the most – 27 in total – live in Alicante. 

Given that Civil Registries in Spain do not permit names with negative connotations, the likeliest explanation for this high number of Semens in Spain, according to the newspaper, is that they are of foreign origin, most likely Ukrainian, and that the name is a literal translation.

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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