Brussels official vetoes Flemish name ‘because it sounds like donkey’

A Flemish couple couldn’t believe their ears when an official in the administration at the City of Brussels refused to accept ‘Hannes’ as the name of their new-born son.  Hannes – short for Johannes or ‘John’ - is a popular name for boys in Flanders, but the city official thought it sounded to much like ‘ânesse’ that is apparently the French word for a female donkey.

The official argued that with a name like that the boy could be pestered at school.  Incredibly, it took an intervention by Ans Persoons (Vooruit/Flemish socialist), the city cabinet member for Flemish affairs in the City of Brussels, to get the name accepted.

Mathias Vanden Borre (N-VA), a Flemish nationalist councillor on Brussels City council, says incidents like this involving officials with no or insufficient Dutch, are a regular occurrence.

“This is unbelievable, an official who has no Dutch or no affinity with the Dutch language, in this day an age.  It shows there is no respect for the bilingual character of our capital. This was supposed to be a wonderful day for the parents and it turned into a disappointment.”

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