"Word" words?

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sun Apr 27 17:51:13 UTC 2008

Curses! Horned, again!

Quite so, Larry. Unless it's in a salad or in a sandwich made from? /
of? such a salad [I once had the idea that, in a language in which
CASE was expressed by PREP and not merely by case, there would be less
(historical) confusion as to what case to use when? / where?; clearly,
I was wrong]  or in a can, only "tuna" is possible for me, too. And,
even when it's in a can, plain "tuna" is a viable alternative for me.


On Fri, Apr 25, 2008 at 10:52 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>  Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>  Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
>  Subject:      Re: "Word" words?
>  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>  At 4:10 PM -0400 4/25/08, Wilson Gray wrote:
>  >When I lived in Los Angeles, I found that people found some such
>  >usages unacceptable. At the counter of a sandwich shop, for example:
>  >
>  >Yours truly: I'd like a tunafish sandwich, please.
>  >
>  >Counter man: *What* kind?
>  >
>  >YT: Tunafish.
>  >
>  >CM: [puzzled expression and tone of voice] Tunafish?
>  >
>  >YT: Yeah.
>  >
>  >CM: [puzzled expression and tone of voice continues]: Uh, what's a
>  >"tunafish" san ...? [Then, big, relieved smile as light dawns] Oh! You
>  >mean a *tuna* sandwich!!!
>  >
>  >YT [annoyed as hell and mumbling in anger]: Yeah. I guess so.
>  >
>  >And I neither kid nor exaggerate. I had to learn to give up my
>  >thitherto lifelong use of "tunafish" and start using merely "tuna,"
>  >after I got tired of being stared at by counter help as though I were
>  >ET. Like, can a person who normally uses "tuna sandwich" truly be
>  >totally discombobulated by the use of "tuna_fish_ sandwich," instead?
>  >
>  >Apparently so.
>  >
>  >One of the few pleasures of living on the East Coast is being able to
>  >use "tunafish," again.
>  >
>  Now that I think of it, "tunafish" and "tuna" are not quite the same
>  on the east coast either (just as Bolinger et al. would predict); no
>  "tunafish sushi" or "tunafish sashimi", for example.  And if someone
>  were to offer a sandwich of sliced seared tuna with wasabi
>  mayonnaise, say, that wouldn't count as a tunafish sandwich.  In
>  other words, tunafish comes from a can, tuna comes from a fish.
>  (Even if it's a tuna fish.)
>  LH
>  ------------------------------------------------------------
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