Daily Archives: November 12, 2008

sockeye

A word like a fish slap in the face. The first part carries echoes of hosiery but also of fisticuffs, which may prevail given the swing of [s] and the impact of [k] – and the connection with eye, which, for its part, aside from being a potential impact site, bounces back like a recoil from the sock. Those looking at the eponymous fish (also called red salmon, blueback salmon, nerka, or – when found in landlocked water – Kokanee, the sound of which may make western Canadians thirsty) will wonder what is sockish about its eye. The answer is: nothing at all. This word took its current form by folk etymology from Salish suk-kegh or sukkai. Most Canadians, on hearing this word, will probably think of something pink in a can. They may or may not think of the two-and-a-half-foot-long colour-changing striver of rivers. But their enjoyment of its buttery flesh will be sharpened by the cracking echo of its name.