Last names can tell a tale of betrayal and collusion.


A culture diametrically opposed to the one conquering it might nonetheless borrow the language and adopt the names of the conqueror. Interestingly, even when the reign of the conqueror is long past and the language is but some stains on the bed that just won’t come out, still the surnames live on proudly defining the bloodlines and the entire nation as collaborators and sleepers with the enemy. Not unsurprisingly, the best examples of this are to be found in Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines, where little else remains of three hundred years of Spanish colonialism except peoples’ names. Certainly most Spanish Americans adopted the names of the Spanish conquerors, but there Spanish is without question the predominant language today. The strongly indigenous country of Guatemala is a notable exception, where the majority of Maya-related natives have retained their native names, even when they adopt the Spanish culture and move to the cities. Interestingly, Mayan women, and to a lesser extent, men, have largely retained native dress in the same circumstances, while others in Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia have not.

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