"Word" words?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Apr 28 23:21:31 UTC 2008

At 6:03 PM -0400 4/28/08, Mark Mandel wrote:
>On Mon, Apr 28, 2008 at 11:32 AM, Laurence Horn
><laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
>>   Nice to know.  And for us non-Nufis, "codfish" is another instance of
>>   the phenomenon under discussion.  Curiously, though, *"scrodfish" is
>>   not--at least I've never heard it, even though scrod is a kind of cod
>>   (when it isn't figuring as the imperfect subjunctive of a certain
>>   verb in the punch line of a certain joke).
>Living in eastern Mass. for 20 years, I learned that "scrod" means
>"the fish of the day", whatever kind that happens to be.
>OED quoth: "A young cod weighing less than three pounds, esp. one that
>is split and fried or boiled. Also used of young forms of other
>fishes, esp. the haddock, or a fillet cut from one of these fishes."
>M-W pretty much agrees: "a young fish (as a cod or haddock);
>especially : one split and boned for cooking"
OK, not all scrods are cods.  But that still doesn't explain why we
have "codfish" (cakes, balls, etc.) but not "scrod fish", since all
scrods are (if not pseudo-imperfect-subjunctives) fish. Maybe there's
a land of Redun(dun)dantia inhabited by collie dogs punching in their
PIN numbers at  their ATM machines to purchase codfish balls and tuna
fish sandwiches made on challah bread...


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

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