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Horse Mackerel vs. Tuna Fish

Discussione in 'English Only' iniziata da mcmay, 19 Dicembre 2006.

  1. mcmay Senior Member

    Guangzhou
    Chinese
    Something I'd never learned before I read the article on "euphemism", titled Euphemism, by Neil Postman is that "horse mackerel" and "tuna fish" should refer to the same thing! And according to the author, "horse mackerel" is a name less favored than "tuna fish" by ordinary customers when they are buying this particular race of fish. However, I Googled both "horse mackerel" and "tuna fish" for their pictures when I found in these pictures that there do exist some differences between the fishes the two names refer to respectively. Now, I'm still wondering if these two names refer to the same fish in the minds of the people who eat it often as a usual dish. Thank you.
     
  2. ash93

    ash93 Senior Member

    London
    England, United Kingdom - English but can speak Urdu, Memon and Hindi
    I'm quite sure that there is a minimal difference between the two. The opinions of others might help me too though.
     
  3. SPQR Senior Member

    US
    American English
    Horse Mackerel is Trachurus trachurus.
    Tuna is in the genus Thunnus.

    So...maybe not a euphemism.
     
  4. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Some common names given to fish around the world seem to be a fairly unreliable guide to the species being referred to.
    Horse mackerel could be any of: Cavally, Scad, Tuna, Jurel, Bluefish, Black, Candle-fish, Californian Hake, Ten-Pounder - and many more, I expect.

    Are any of these, or perhaps all of them, Trachurus trachurus? I have no idea.
     
  5. mcmay Senior Member

    Guangzhou
    Chinese
    Oh, I'm not too clear about definitions some of which are sometimes cycle-defining among themselves. I just want to listen to the native English speakers' impression on the fish(es) these two terms refer to. Is horse mackerel a less frequently used euphemism than tuna fish?
     
  6. Glinda Junior Member

    Alabama
    English US
    I have never heard horse mackerel used to refer to tuna or tuna fish. Tuna is very common, and very tasty. :)
     
  7. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    Until reading this thread, I had never heard of horse mackeral.

    I don't think it is commonly used in the US. Tuna and tunafish are very common terms.
     
  8. ash93

    ash93 Senior Member

    London
    England, United Kingdom - English but can speak Urdu, Memon and Hindi
    Yes, horse mackerel is definetly less frequently used than tuna.
     
  9. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    This point has been mystifying me since the first post - what have Horse Mackerel and Tuna got to to with euphemisms?
     
  10. ash93

    ash93 Senior Member

    London
    England, United Kingdom - English but can speak Urdu, Memon and Hindi
    Maybe Horse Mackerel is a nicer way of saying tuna or vice versa (?!?!)
     
  11. jabogitlu Senior Member

    USA-English
    I've *never* heard that term! How interesting... But I still prefer saying 'tuna,' I don't want to eat anything called "horse mackarel" :eek:
     
  12. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The only fishy euphemism I can think of right now is Rock Salmon, otherwise known as Dogfish, but reputed to have been served with chips in some seaside resorts.
     
  13. waspsmakejam Junior Member

    York, Yorkshire
    UK, English
    I am happy to confirm that rock salmon is dogfish, also known as huss.

    Rock salmon and chips is a great favourite of mine. It wasn't constantly available in our local chip shop in east London, but was a common item. And its always what I had to eat at the seaside. I haven't had it in years, it seems here in Yorkshire its not regarded as edible.
     
  14. ivpaul New Member

    English - American
    I wish I could provide an autoritative citation, but I believe it was in an advertising class in college that I first was told by a professor that "tuna" was created by some marketing genius because they didn't think people would buy as much horse mackeral.
     
  15. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    Penang
    American English
    From the online Etymology Dictionary:

    tuna: 1881, from Amer.Sp. (California) tuna, from Sp. atun, from Ar. tun, from L. thunnus "tunny" (see tunny).

    tunny: large sea-fish of the mackerel order, 1530, probably from M.Fr. thon (14c.), from O.Prov. ton, from L. thunnus "a tuna, tunny," from Gk. thynnos "a tuna, tunny," possibly in the literal sense of "darter," from thynein "dart along."
     
  16. ivpaul New Member

    English - American
    OK, so this means that the marketing genius researched names of the fish, found that it was also called "tunny" in the 16th century, and the canneries in California adapted it into "tuna," starting in 1881.
     
  17. mplsray Senior Member

    Horse mackerel is not a euphemism for tuna, tuna is (or was) a euphemism for horse mackerel. The substitution was presumably made because people didn't like the idea of eating a fish that was in some way associated with a horse. (In this case, horse carried the meaning "large" or "course." That was acceptable in the case of horseradish, but not, it seems, in the case of fish.)

    The Oxford English Dictionary, under the entry "horse-mackerel," lists the Century Dictionary as a source. Fortunately, the Century, an American dictionary of 1895, is available free online here. The entry "horse-mackerel" adds to what panjandrum cited the regions where horse-mackerel meant a particular fish. For example, "The common tunny [an older variant of tuna]" is identified as being a US usage, while horse-mackerel was used for other fish in various parts of the US and was used for "The scad or cavally, Caranx vulgaris" in England and New Zealand.

    It appears from various dictionary entries that horse mackerel (the hyphen isn't used anymore) might still be used for some fish, but I think it is no longer used for tuna.
     

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