Imitation or counterfeit?

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Oct 13 04:06:51 UTC 2011

It's a cultural issue, in part, so "phony" is questionable too.
"Knock-off", "false", "faux", "fake" can all be thrown around too, but
all come up just a touch short. "Mock" and "Ersatz" are even more
questionable--"mock" has a strong association with "turtle" (to the
point of becoming "mock-turtleneck), and Wiki suggests that "ersatz"
implies something artificial as a replacement. MWOLD also says "artificial".

But this "hairy crab" issue is typical. The same can be said about
Chinkiang black vinegar--virtually none of the black vinegar marketed
under the name is original. Some of it is just industrial run-off, while
others are elaborate concoctions intended to imitate the original as
closely as possible. In this case, the object is not a living creature
and the terminology may well depend on the actual product--some are
counterfeit/knock-off Guccis, others are imitation/fake works of art,
and some are just outright toxic waste that has no appropriate
description from this list. (Vodka bought in street kiosks in Russia has
similar implications, as, more often than not, the bottles have been
drained and refilled with something inferior or toxic.)

Further research indicates that Walmart has just been caught--in
China!--selling non-organic food as organic. I'm not sure what to apply
here either. It's not counterfeit--the produce is what it is, just not
organic. "Fake" and "phony" might be best here.

The problem with hairy crabs is that there is outright fraud (as in the
other cases), so "imitation" is not quite right--"imitation crab" is not
fraudulently presented crab. But "counterfeit", to me, has an "Ersatz"
quality to it, so that does not seem quite right either. It's the same
issue as someone serving dogfish in place of haddock or the infamous
case of McDonald's importing surplus kangaroo (which actually would have
been higher quality than the "100% beef" they normally use, had it ever
made it past customs). In all these cases, it's had to get past "fraud"
and "fraudulent". I'd like to, but I can't--even though, as you can
surely tell, this is not the first time I thought about it.


On 10/12/2011 9:41 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:
> On Wed, Oct 12, 2011 at 9:22 PM, Jonathan Lighter
> <wuxxmupp2000 at>  wrote:
>> This seems to be a case where "phony" is clearly the best word.
> True. But Joel does have a point. It *is* funny, when you think about
> it. Especially when you consider that the purveyors of the genuine
> article apparently make more money by selling their tags to crooks
> than they do by selling their product to government wholesalers!
> "lol," so to speak.
> --
> -Wilson

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