Re: NANFA-- pikeminnow (was Mosquito fish)

Jay DeLong (
Fri, 05 Jan 2001 23:50:35 -0800

At 09:42 AM 1/5/01, you wrote:
>One of the earliest common
>names for P. oregonensis -- the Sacramento pikeminnow -- is Sacramento pike,
>dating from the 1800s.

Sure, they could have come up with a lot worse names. I guess my main
thought is: What is the purpose(s) of a common name anyway, for fishes,
mammals, trees, anything?

>Also, the word "pike" -- as it applies to fish -- is descriptive. A pike,
>in its
>original meaning, is a sharp point or spike.

I don't think anyone seeing the word pike in reference to the fish thinks
"pike-shaped" and I don't think modern day uses of "pike" refer to the
spike look. I never heard anyone use the word pike, but maybe that's just
me. Is there a spearfish, pointfish, or spikefish? :-)
Again I refer to my question about the purpose of common names. I could
use some insight there.

>The name pikeminnow tells me that the fish is a minnow and that it is
>pike-shaped. In fact, they are the only pike-shaped minnows in North America.
>The name is clear, descriptive, and accurate. The name squawfish is
>It tells me nothing about the fish.

Some historical accounts have it that the men of the tribes fished for the
more challenging salmon (while balanced on boulders and ledges at
waterfalls with long-handled dip nets), while the women caught the
less-challenging fish which came to be called squawfish (women's fish).

Jay DeLong
Olympia, WA

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