How Opa-locka got its name

Opa-locka is a small city in the Miami metropolitan area of south Florida. Its unusal name is supposed to have an Indian or “Native American” origin. But there is no documentation for the name before about 1926. That’s when the aviator Glenn Curtiss founded the city, during the 1920s craze for Florida real estate.1 When […]

The oil spill

A few more vignettes from Alabama and the northern Gulf coast: Tar balls from the Deepwater Horizon spill appeared on the Dauphin Island shore on Saturday. According to the Mobile Press-Register, “about 100 workers in white hazmat suits, yellow boots and black gloves were picking up samples of black-stained sand near the pier, as beachgoers […]

Spanish surnames

I’m puzzled by the signatures I’m seeing on official documents in Spanish from the early 1800s. They seem to contradict some of what I was taught about how Spanish surnames work. My understanding is that Spanish speakers don’t use their “last” name by itself. This is because they append their mother’s surname after their father’s, […]