Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series as well as books about grammar and publishing. See the complete list here.
He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving "friends".
I met an old friend for lunch the other day, and when the waiter took our order, he said, "I'll have tuna fish on wheat bread, please."
I was going to say something since we were close friends; instead, I placed my order. "I'll have the salmon fish on white, please."
The waiter raised his eyebrows, but didn't say anything. Then, after he left, Tony said, "Salmon fish? What the hell is that?"
Without skipping a beat, I said, "It must be the same as tuna fish, only salmon."
The moral of the story was not to make fun of Tony, though I do that every chance I get, the moral was to show you that redundancies are everywhere and you should learn to recognize them.
This is one that drives me crazy and I hear it all of the time in restaurants. Think about it. Why not just say, “I’ll have the tuna” or “I want tuna for lunch”?
You wouldn’t ask for snapper fish or sea bass fish, would you? No. You’d ask for snapper or sea bass. So why is it tuna fish? When was the last time you heard anyone tell a waiter they would have the salmon fish?
Why say tuna fish? Is there tuna cow or tuna bird? #grammarmistakes #amwriting
One of the dictionaries listed tuna fish as “the flesh of the tuna,” but I don’t know if I buy that. No other fish is listed that way, so why tuna? It almost seems as if it’s an afterthought. Do we need to distinguish the difference? And why not with other things? Do we say “chicken fowl,” as in “I’d like a chicken fowl sandwich,” or “I’d like six chicken fowl nuggets”? How about “What are you serving for Thanksgiving dinner?” “We’re having roast turkey fowl. How about you?”
I've never heard it referred to as tuna fish in the UK, but people from the US do all of the time.
Try not to be redundant when you speak, and certainly not when you write. And for God's sake, the next time you order lunch, say, 'I"ll have the tuna' not 'tuna fish.'