Austronesian words for seahorse (Hippocampus spp.)

Joel Bradshaw bradshaw at
Mon May 10 08:33:32 UTC 1999

Looking at Grant's Guide to Fishes, Numbami speakers (in PNG) labelled
sea horses yuwaya tina (lit. 'crocodile mother'). They were pretty clear
that it was not a yuwaya ano 'true crocodile'. The modifier tina (lit.
'mother') is used for diminutives as well as augmentatives, thus
indicating 'off-sized' rather than 'great' or 'small'. I should check
the Jabem dictionary to see what it shows for Hippocampus. At least the
Numbami name is not derived from English or Malay.

Joel Bradshaw <bradshaw at>

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