Sunday, 6 October 2019

Papua New Guinea Place Names Explained

Having blogged samples of my books on English place names and also examined the etymologies of the nations of the world and their respective capitals I thought it time I cast my net a little wider. As English place names share some links to other tongues it would be interesting to see if any of the elements contributing to our place names could be found elsewhere. Continuing an alphabetical tour of the world and a look some of Papua New Guinea's names.

Finschhafen was founded in the late 19th century and named after its discoverer, the German scientist and explorer Otto Finsch, with the suffix hafen 'harbour'.

Mount Hagen is a city named after the old eroded volcano of Mount Hagen, itself from the German colonial officer Curt von Hagen.

Woodlark Island is named after the Australian whaling ship Woodlark captained by George Grimes in the 1830s.

Port Moresby was named by Captain John Moresby, the first European to see the place. However, it was named after his father Admiral Sir Fairfax Moresby, who earned fame during the Napoleonic wars. It is the capital of a nation which has 851 different languages, of which 11 have no native speakers.

Rabaul is finally an example of a place named from the local language, where rabaul is the Kuanua for 'mangrove'.

Bougainville, correctly North and South Districts, were named after the French explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville, a famous Pacific explorer whose name is probably better known for the genus of flowing vines known as Bougainvillea.

Sandaun is from the Tok Pisin word for 'sun down' for it is located at the extreme west of the country.

Bismarck Archipelago and the Bismarck Sea were named to honour Chancellor Otto von Bismarck when the islands were under German rule.

Louisiade Archipelago were named for Louis XV the king of France when the French arrived here in 1768.

Fly River is named after the vessel commanded by Francis Blackwood, HMS Fly, an 18-gun sloop of the Royal Navy.

Markham River was named in 1873 by Captain John Moresby, to honour Sir Clements Markham, the then Secretary of the Royal Geographical Society.

Note the spellings of the places are English as the piece is written in English.


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