In Javanese, the word fish, when used alone, refers to the swimming water creature. But, when fish is used with cow, chicken, and other names of edible animals, the meaning changes to meat. Beef will translate to cow fish, chicken to chicken fish.

In Indonesian, we use meat instead of fish.

My ex landlord laughed at a Javanese builder he hired when he shared his rather uncommon meatball recipe, which called for goat fish, instead of cow fish. “Do you mean goat meat?” he asked. “Yes, goat fish.”

In both languages, most water mammals that look like (giant) fish are also called fish, hence we have: dolphin fish, whale fish, and shark fish. Those we never call fish: sea lions and mermaids.

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