Revision of vernacular names for the freshwater fish of French Guiana

Grenand P., Chapuis J., Cognat A., Christinoi A., Davy D., Grenand F., Jégu M., Keith P., Martin E., Nemo F., Pagezy H., Le Bail P.Y.

Date de parution: décembre 2015
Volume: 39
Number: 4
Pagination: 279–300
Editeur: Société Française d'Ichtyologie

The fish fauna of French Guiana is one of the best described in the geographical area covering the Guiana Shield. Paradoxically, however, there is no summary document validated by ethnologists and specialized linguists that links the scientific names of the fish of this area to their vernacular names from the different language groups. In this paper, we compile the presently existing data on species and vernacular names collected over several decades in Creole, Amerindian (Kali’na, Palikur, Wayana, Wayãpi and Teko), Nenges or Maroons (Boni, Ndjuka and Sranan Tongo) languages as well as French and/or specialist aquarium terms and Brazilian Portuguese. Of the 416 fish species found in French Guiana, we can assign a common name to 85% of them by considering all these languages as a group. These common names can be more or less generic, covering a greater or lesser number of species that are similar or very close in their external morphology. The fish currently without common names are mostly rare or small species of less than 5 cm. The linguistic groups with broader geographic distributions (Brazilian, Creole, French and specialist aquarium terminology) have named the most species but have also tended to give several local names to the same species. Taking into account the number of species present on the territory occupied by each linguistic group, the percentage of fish with at least one name ranges between 65 and 70% for Brazilian, French, Creole, Kali’na, Wayana and Wayanpi, suggesting a degree of completeness of the nomenclature. This is not the case for languages like Boni, Ndjuka, Palikur, Teko and Sranan Tongo, which will require new collections specifically geared towards these ethnic groups to fill the gaps.

Mots-clés: French Guiana - freshwater - Ichthyofauna - Vernacular name
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