early euphemism of the year candidate--"artificial calamari"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Jan 23 17:29:37 UTC 2013

On Jan 23, 2013, at 8:58 AM, Amy West wrote:

> On 1/23/13 1:05 AM, Automatic digest processor wrote:
>> Date:    Tue, 22 Jan 2013 11:51:54 -0500
>> From:    Jonathan Lighter<wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
>> Subject: Re: early euphemism of the year candidate--"artificial calamari"
>>          (UNCLASSIFIED)
>> I agree. "Artificial calamari" says it's fake right there in the name.
>> What kind of euphemism is that?
>> JL
> I heard that This American Life segment as well. And I have to say that
> where you all (and those on the show) are saying "artificial," I would
> be using "imitation" (as in "imitation crab," "imitation vanilla extract").
> Is it a "euphemism" along the lines of "sweetbread" (thymus or pancreas)
> or "head cheese" (a sausage or "jellied mass" [gotta love that W3 def:
> yum!] made from meat from the pig's head, feet, tongue, and heart)?
> ---Amy West
Not to mention "black pudding", "brawn", "presswurst", "tlačenka", etc. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brawn), all of which disguise or masquerade the too-offal-for-words ingredients.  But none of the others pull off a comparable substitution across animal species, as opposed to just suppressing or altering the body parts in question.  Of course there are those mountain/prairie oysters, but as far as I know calves' testes don't appear as "oysters" under the seafood heading (if any) on menus in Western saloons, or get sold next to the clams at the fishmonger's.  Ditto for other ironyms in the same family, from Block Island turkey ('salted codfish') to Albany beef ('sturgeon') to Jewish penicillin ('chicken soup'), none of which are designed to pull the wool (or even "Alabama wool" = 'cotton') over a diner.

I agree that "imitation" makes more sense than "artificial" in the calamari/bung context, even if some would see the distinction as a mere squiddity.


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