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#1 2011-08-22 01:36:54

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

"Sakai salmon" for "sockeye salmon"

I was wondering whether the name of “sockeye” salmon might be an anglicization of a Japanese word. But no, it’s from a language that’s spoken (by very few people today) in Kem’s neck of the woods; here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the etymology:

The name “sockeye” is an anglicization of suk-kegh, its name in Halkomelem, the language of the indigenous people along the lower reaches of the Fraser River (one of British Columbia’s many native Coast Salish languages). Suk-kegh means red fish.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sockeye_salmon
[Edit: I deleted the IPA info here, which didn’t translate]

I’m not alone in my guess for the origin of the name, however. Citations for “Sakai salmon” – often with that tell-tale capitalization that lets us know we’re in the presence of a Lehmann’s term – are easy to find, and it’s perhaps not surprising that they turn up, among other places, on the menus of Japanese restaurants and on Ninja forums. Examples:

Hamachi and sakai salmon salad with torched hamachi skin.
http://www.shroomery.org/forums/showfla … r/10868169

The spring onion vichyssoise (a cold soup) is topped with bites of cured Sakai salmon, rye croutons, dill, and the unmistakable brightness of Meyer lemon.
http://thebolditalic.com/nico/stories/812-going-stag

My friend ordered the Lox and Cream sandwich. Other than using smoked Sakai salmon instead of the candied smoked salmon, they had the same ingredients.
http://www.meplusfood.com/restaurants/siegels-bagels

Sakai Salmon $3.00
http://www.allmenus.com/il/chicago/2720 … chen/menu/

Q: Can you eat ‘sakai’ salmon completely raw?
A: Yes, it is possible to eat sakai salmon raw, raw fish is easier to consume than other meats raw.
http://www.chacha.com/question/can-you- … letely-raw

June and Julymonths I spent in Bristol Bay fighting the weather of the Bering Sea to harvest Sakai salmon so millions of people can get their omega-3’s.
http://www.ninjainformationdatabase.com … /55799159/

I was aware of the Salishan languages, spoken in the American Northwest and British Columbia, but I’d never heard of Halkomelem before. Tracking down the origins of “sockeye salmon” led me to wonder whether there were other borrowings fron the Salishan languages, and that in turn led me to this useful Wikipedia list of English borrowings from indigenous languages of the Americas: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_En … e_Americas

It turns out Halkomelem has contributed to English two more words we all know: “Coho” – another type of salmon – and “sasquatch.” Words from other Salishan languages include these: “kokanee,” perhaps from Twana, for a lake-locked type of sockeye salmon; “Chinook” from Lower Chehalis; and “geoduck,” for a type of large clam with an amazingly long siphon, from Lushootseed. In a further bit of eggcornishness, geoducks are also called “mud ducks.”

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#2 2011-08-23 03:26:12

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2162

Re: "Sakai salmon" for "sockeye salmon"

Also, apparently, misspelled as “Sakae salmon,” perhaps influenced by the Sakae Sushi restaurants.

Odd you should mention Halkomelem. Just this week I was talking to a young Halkomelem speaker about his native language.

I discovered when I moved to BC that I had been mispronouncing “geoduck.”

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#3 2011-08-23 18:26:21

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: "Sakai salmon" for "sockeye salmon"

Odd you should mention Halkomelem. Just this week I was talking to a young Halkomelem speaker about his native language.

How cool—esp. the fact that the guy you met was young; many of the endangered California languages (pretty much all of them) have only elderly fluent speakers.

I discovered when I moved to BC that I had been mispronouncing “geoduck.”

I’d never heard of them before. How do you pronounce the name?

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#4 2011-08-23 18:54:06

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2162

Re: "Sakai salmon" for "sockeye salmon"

Geoduck? Sounds like “gooey duck.” I don’t know how that sound got mapped to “geo.”

No duck in the word, of course, though I suspect almost everyone maps the last syllable onto a semantic field that corresponds to the family Anatidae.

Last edited by kem (2011-08-24 23:37:03)

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#5 2011-08-24 15:05:19

David Bird
Eggcornista
From: Montréal, QC
Registered: 2009-07-28
Posts: 1204

Re: "Sakai salmon" for "sockeye salmon"

Huh, amazing. I always thought that gooey duck was the Three Stooges-style mangling of the true name. But what is Sakai, Pat?

I planted trees with a crew of Haida Indians for a year, a wonderful bunch of whom I have fond memories. As is typical of that kind of job, most of the Indian words I was exposed to were NSFW. There is a word that is native to the Pacific Northwest that they used: potlack, which is in most dictionaries as potlatch. We have it here.

I can only slip in this cute eggcorn from the sushi shop where I often eat lunch. A mix of raw salmon and herbs was offered as tart tart du saumon, or “salmon tart tart”. The presentation was in small pastry shells. The French language environment of Montreal would make the final t in tart disappear. I have a photo somewhere that I’ll enter when I find it. Otherwise, here’s a picture of steak tart tart.

Acorn: tartar

Edit: Wait a second, there’s something fishy afloat here. Salmon sushi is called “sake toro” in Japanese. Is “sake” the Japanese word for salmon? That’s suspicious if it’s true.

Last edited by David Bird (2011-12-22 21:36:24)

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#6 2011-08-24 22:38:15

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: "Sakai salmon" for "sockeye salmon"

Is “sake” the Japanese word for salmon? That’s suspicious if it’s true.

“Sake” does appear to be one Japanese word for “salmon”; another seems to be “samo”—which of course looks suspiciously like a borrowing in its own right. Cool and interesting, but I’m not sure what to make of all this. Could “sakai” seem to be the more natural spelling to people already familiar with the Japanese word? I don’t know.

The OED doesn’t agree precisely with Wikipedia’s etymology for “sockeye,” but they also claim that it’s from an indigenous language and associated with the Fraser River:

Etymology: < North American Indian sukai ‘fish of fishes’, the local name on the Fraser River.

Nothing Japanese enters here, but we still have a mystery: is it “red fish” or “fish of fishes”? Sockeye turn bright red in fresh water, so “red fish” certainly makes sense. And the OED etymology is unchanged from a much earlier edition, so it may be possible that the sources cited by Wikipedia are the product of later and better research.

In any case, “gooey duck” is certainly a pleasant surprise. The “Deo Decimal System,” anyone?

Last edited by patschwieterman (2011-08-24 22:39:02)

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