Fishy terms

Anyone ordering salmon in a European restaurant will easily recognise the similarity between salmone (Italian), salmão (Portuguese), saumon (French) or solomós (Greek), and may make the leap from the Yiddish lox to lachs (German), laks (Norwegian) or lax (Swedish). But identifying the same fish as yeoneo (Korean), som balig˘i (Turkish), sake masu-rui (Japanese) or losos (Croatian) calls for a fish glossary.

At over 360 pages, the recently published 5th edition of the OECD’s Multilingual Dictionary of Fish and Fish Products is not intended as a pocket guide. It is rather an essential tool for international markets, designed to promote and facilitate global trade in fish and fish products, by providing a comprehensive list of products that are in commercial use around the world.

The bilingual glossary opens with aalpricken, a “gutted small eel, fried and packed in fine edible oil”, produced in Germany, and ends with the European freshwater fish zanthe, also known as vimpa in Finland, strandslabbi in Iceland and certa in Poland. One learns that yakiboshi is the Japanese name given to fish that are “dried after boiling or toasting…processed as round, usually gutted and skewered with bamboo pins...Yakiboshi is usually subjoined by the name of the fish. For example, yakiboshi ayu is from ayu sweetfish, and yakiboshi iwashi is from sardine or anchovy.”

While it is commonly known that fish names employed for certain species are not always the same in different countries or regions, this is true even where the same language is spoken. There are a number of differences between European and North American terms such as pomfret/butterfish or pickerel/pike, or perch/sea bream/porgy. The humble catfish, or loup in French, for instance, is also known in the UK as rock turbot, rock salmon, sea cat, sea wolf, sand scar or swine, although the recommended trade name for these species is rockfish. Korean has been added to this edition, which provides separate indexes for the 21 languages covered, as well as an index of scientific names.

ISBN 978-92-64-03989-6

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©OECD Observer No 269 October 2008

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