Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Pacific Daily News today talks about the effectiveness of the Education Suruhanu's position.

Suruhåno, as you may know, refers to a male (suruhåna for female) herbal practitioner or specialist.  He knows what herbs will help alleviate your pain or condition.  Some suruhåno specialize in therapeutic massage techniques, too.

But some suruhåno (I stress some) also claimed intermediary powers with the spirit world.  He was the one who interceded for you when you got in trouble with the spirits.  So it was in that sense that the Legislature, back in the late 70s, created the Office of the Suruhanu, or Ombudsman, to enable individual citizens to go to a government official named Suruhanu who would act as an intermediary, an intercessor, a political patron saint, if you will, on behalf of the individual.

We were smart-alecky high school juniors/seniors when we heard that there was a new government office called the Suruhanu.  We joked about going down to his office with complaints of headaches, nausea and the like.  Or, if you had a problem with a government agency, that the Suruhanu would go to the Department headquarters and sprinkle salt or burn old clothing around the building.  Real smart-alecks.

The concept of suruhåno as a government intermediary is a modern addition to the traditional meaning of the word.  But languages evolve.  We'll see whether the idea sticks, since the office itself may or may not.  As funny as the additional definition may be to some, what is certain is that our children's education is no laughing matter.

The word, by the way, is taken from the Spanish "cirujano," which means "surgeon."

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