"Word" words?

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Sun Apr 27 21:08:40 UTC 2008

On Apr 25, 2008, at 7:52 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:

> 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.)
The species are different in these two cases. If you want albacore
(the tuna used in cans in the US) for sushi, I think "albacore" is
usually used. Maguro appears to refer to northern bluefin (http://www.sushifaq.com/sushi-items/sushi-items-tuna-maguro.htm
  & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maguro). BB

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list