continental seafood

Every Saturday I see them on the market. The fishmongers who specialise in

Quality English and Continental Seafood.

Wait a minute. What on earth is “continental seafood”? The seafood caught on the continent? Or the fish from continental seas? The term “continental sea” is used in geology, although their inhabitants must be fossilised by now. In British English, however, “continental” also means “related to Continental Europe” (as opposed to Britain). Thus “continental philosophy” refers to the reasonably modern philosophy from continental Europe (mostly Germany and France), as opposed to “analytic philosophy” (mostly English-speaking countries). Similarly, continental breakfast has French-sounding food in it, unlike full breakfast which does not. Now I don’t understand how a decent breakfast can be full without a croissant, but there you are. As for seafood, it is probably caught in the same sea by fishermen from both sides of La Manche.

Most Brits, of course, do not live on an island but on mainland. As, indeed, do most Irish. I know that for sure from one of the Father Ted episodes. Also, 75% of Orkney’s population live on the Mainland (which is the largest island in the archipelago). It looks like pattern: nobody wants to live on an island. Except maybe Icelanders whose volcanic-ash belching country is called “Island” in at least ten languages. But wait: according to Wikipedia, both Great Britain and Ireland are continental islands because they lie on the continental shelf off Europe. So there.

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