The prestigious Romanist and dialectologist Joan Veny has just published the Linguistic History of our Fishes (IEC). In this new volume of his extensive work, which includes the monumental Linguistic Atlas of the Catalan domain, Veny gathers the studies on the origin of the numbers of the pieces of the Mediterranean, a passion that came to him as a child, when he went fishing with his brother de Campos, his native town in Mallorca.
His research has served to fix the name of many varieties, ichthymia, to the point that some spellings that appear in dictionaries such as Alcover-Moll (DCVB) have had to be modified. One of these has been that of the penegal (Helicolenus dactylopterus), which was listed as panegal.
Other curiosities also appear in the book, such as the quetsemper (Synodus saurus), the San Francisco fish, which takes its name from a Latin sentence and which is returned to the sea because it has little gastronomic value; a fish that also has a name that refers to the sexual thing, boixacriades (follacriadas), due to its phallic appearance. Or the civil guard denomination of the hammerhead fish, due to the tricorne shape of its head.
Linguistic history of our fishes is number 90 in the collection of the Institut d'Estudis Catalans, which coincidentally coincides with the years that Veny has completed. For this reason, with the excuse of the presentation of the book, yesterday the Philological Section of the IEC paid him a surprise tribute at L'Aquàrium de Barcelona.
The occasion was so special that even Joaquim Maria Puyal took up the microphone again. Although he has shunned the spotlight for years, the popular journalist acted as master of ceremonies for this surprise tribute, with a spectacular fish tank as a backdrop and a welcome with the notes of La mer, by Charles Trent, in the instrumental version of Los Tabajaras Indians.
The president of the Institut d' Estudis Catalans, Teresa Cabré, said that Veny is "a gift to the Institute". “You are very shy, but you are a man with firm ideas who, if need be, puts the horn, as a defender of the unity of the language and of variation,” Cabré continued. You have never wanted positions, that is to say that you have never wanted the presidency of the Philological Section, although we have offered it to you”. The president concluded her words with praise for the wise man and the person: "I appreciate your loyalty and your affection."
The president of the Philological Section of the IEC, Nicolau Dols, announced that today, December 1, "521 digitized articles will be available for consultation on the new portal of Joan Veny, within the linguistic resources of the IEC website. And Francesc Xavier Llorca, from the University of Alicante, was in charge of reviewing the book. The musical note was put by Biel Majoral and his group, another surprise of the evening.
To Puyal's questions, Veny explained his first contact with linguistic variation, dialectology: “My mother was from Llucmajor and my father, who was a blacksmith, from Campos. She said niu on ocell and I stopped saying it because the other children made fun of me. They were differences with a neighboring town, which was only twelve kilometers away”.
Veny got to know the sea on a beach “of white sand” and the phrase that says that discovering a new word “is like seeing a star being born in the firmament or seeing a rose petal fall” is his. Having him as a teacher and as a reference has been like seeing a star being born in the firmament or seeing a rose petal fall.
Catalan version, here