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Post Mayan Surnames...and Hyphens (from Gary Moore)
Created by John Eipper on 07/19/19 4:59 AM

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Mayan Surnames...and Hyphens (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA, 07/19/19 4:59 am)

Gary Moore writes:

Edward Jajko's enlightening discussion of Arabic non-surnames, evoked by the mysteries of Our Man in Tapachula, Sabah Jerges José Dada (July 17), points up the remarkable completeness of the veil covering many people-smugglers.

The inquirer, meeting a blank wall, is reduced to analyzing the only scrap appearing, incidentals like the structure of their names. And further, had Sabah been arrested in the United States, not Mexico (as various people-smugglers were in the 2003 swoop that got him), there is yet another naming convention that would have complicated things: the maddening US prosecutorial custom of turning Spanish inverted surnames into imaginary hyphenates. El Chapo becomes Joaquín Guzmán-Loera, as if he's so millennial that he adopted half his wife's name. Some of the examples grow obfuscational. I see the point, that the hyphen is fixing the original surname in first position for record-searching, but it's unsettling to think of the law itself turning into a shrugging tourist at the border.

Ed might also have looked just across the Suchiate River from Tapachula, where a short trek into the Guatemala highlands finds many customers of people-smugglers in the traditionally migratory Mam and Chuj Mayan groups. They outdo the US prosecutors, namewise, to sound a bit Arabic, taking an admired first name as a child's surname. In 2000, a witch hunt for alleged satanists was started high in the Cuchumatanes by a woman named Catarina Pablo. This all leads back to Guatemala's ancient wound, the enslavement of its Indian majority, with the adopted surnames originally designating a hacienda owner--a slave name, as it were. In the hidebound traditionalism that shelters many besieged groups, the Mams and Chujs held onto this, though the numerous Kekchis, next door, somehow did not, despite being just as enslaved. The little girl who made headlines dying in US Border Patrol custody last December was Jakelin Caal, with a characteristically curt Kekchi surname. More fortunate was Leslie Angelia Cac Pop, who took eight days to reach El Paso on smugglers' buses. Worlds are to be found simply in the twisted tree-rings of Guatemalan names, if an Octavio Paz or Miguel Ángel Asturias--or an Ed Jajko of WAIS--can be found to explain the code.

JE comments:  Gary Moore originally titled this post "Snap Crackle Cac Pop Pablo"--nobody in WAISworld sends more creative or original subject lines!  So why do I always change them for posting?  I assume it's the searchability factor.  Or am I simply boring?  Gary, what do you think?

For non-US WAISers:  "Snap Crackle Pop" is the ancient slogan (at least since 1939) for Rice Krispies cereal.  A Mayan creation?  Ehem, with no small amount of smugness, I must put RKs in the Michigan column (Kellogg Company, Battle Creek).

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