Tuesday, December 3, 2019


The witness mentioned five people, but no last names!

As most of you know, nearly every Chamorro family has a nickname; a "better-known-as."

On an island where there was a José Cruz, Manuel Flores and Ana Dueñas around every corner, such nicknames were very helpful in specifying who you meant.

It seems that it was such a prevalent thing in the old days that, many times, people sometimes didn't even know the actual last names of the people they were talking about!

Take, for example, this court case in 1906 involving a land dispute.

A witness mentioned the names of five people who might be able to provide information on the case. He didn't use a single last name for any of the five. He called them all by their family, or perhaps, personal nicknames.

Let's see who they were.


This would have been Juan Muña Garrido, whose family was better known as the familian Humåtak. In those days of Spanish influence, J sounded like H as in Juan and José. The Spaniards didn't use a K in their alphabet (except a few times when using Greek words, for example), so they used a hard G to spell Jumatag (Humåtak).


This would have been Juan Concepción Garrido, a relative of Juan Muña Garrido, but whose family was better known as the familian Emmo', after their patriarch Anselmo Camacho Garrido. The -elmo in Anselmo became Emmo'.


I haven't been able to find a family better known as Ama, so it could be that this is Vicente's wife's nickname or his mother's nickname. Sometimes people were identified by their spouse's first name. Like José married to Ana would be called Josen Ana, and Ana would be called Anan José. Or, there could have been another explanation for Ama, but we don't know what it is.


There are families better known as familian Chåda', mostly with the last name Cruz.


Quico is the Spanish spelling of Kiko', since there is no K in Spanish. Kiko' is the nickname for Francisco. There are several families better known as familian Kostat, so it's hard to say which one. Kostat is the Chamorro word for bag.

So when this witness mentioned all five of these people by their nicknames only, I wonder if the Chamorros in the court room (the judge, clerks, advocates) nodded their heads, saying to themselves, "Yes, we know who they are."


The witness was asked to identify someone, and his answer was,

"Tio Joaquín, Bådo, ti hu tungo' i apeyidu-ña."

"Uncle Joaquín, Bådo', I don't know his last name."

Imagine! It's his "uncle"; he knows his personal name and his nickname. But not his last name.

That's how it was for a lot of people in the old days. Last names were sometimes not known, even of the people you personally knew.


Besides being known by your family or clan nickname, people were also known by their spouse's first name.

José and Ana, who are married, were known as José'n Ana and Ana'n José.

It often happened that you were ONLY known by your spouse's name by many people.

Here is a dialogue between a lawyer and a witness in 1910 :

~ Do you know her grandmother?
~ Yes.
~ What is her name?
~ Manuela'n Vicente.

How's that for identification? Manuela isn't known by her last name, but by her husband's name Vicente.

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