Most Icelanders still follow the age old tradition
of using the first name of their father as the basis for their last name.
"Sonur" is added to the fathers name if the child is a boy, and
"dóttir" if the child is female.
Family names as such are not commonly used in Iceland,
and the question "Do you know Eiríksson?"
is really meaningless, as the definition is missing.
In the example below, the siblings are the children of Jóhann Már,
so the last names are Jóhannsson and Jóhannsdóttir, respectively.
As each Icelander's name is an individual property,
the names do not change in marriage,
as in the case of the parents and grandparents above,
the ladies keep their names.
And so will both Bára Sif Jóhannsdóttir
and Gestur Þór Jóhannsson when they marry.
This is really a very simple system, and no danger
of confusion, but early this year a law was
passed allowing Icelanders to use the first names of their mothers
as their last name. So, just to try to confuse you a little,
have a look at the family above if they had followed that "tradition".
Have a try yourself
Print out the following page,
or save it in your Word Processor
and find out how your family's names
would look using the Icelandic traditions.