Thursday, March 12, 2009

Oh my darling Clementine

Call it a pet peeve, but it drives me mad that a wide cross-section of my class refer to clementines as tangerines (as in: "Would you like a tangerine?"). Clementines and tangerines are different fruits, though they are similar.

A popular alternative to tangerines are clementines, which are also a variant of the mandarin orange.

I will concede that I myself was not clear on the distinction between clementines and tangerines. I knew that clementines were generally seedless, but also believed that they were usually smaller than tangerines. Indeed, the defining characteristic of a clementine is the absence of seeds.

They are very easy to peel, like a tangerine, but lack [...] seeds.

For a time, Mello argued with me that her clementines were in fact tangerines. It wasn't until she and I were physically in the presence of a box of them that I pointed out the label clearly read: "Clementines." "Oh yeah," she exclaimed, "It does say clementines..."

That's what I've been saying all along... So the next time you partake of a small, seedless orange fruit with eight to fourteen juicy segments - Remember! It's a clementine.


sandlot said...

I call both oranges. It's too difficult to differentiate between orange sphere-like fruit.

Jerry said...

I beg to differ. I believe that tangerine and clementine are just two names for the same fruit. Maybe clementine refers to a small subset of tangerines. Such as boy refers to a young man, yet boy and man are both humans. In any case, you quoted Wikipedia a bit, but failed to include an important section:

"They are very easy to peel, like a tangerine, but lack the tangerine's seeds. Clementines are also known as seedless tangerines, although occasionally they do contain seeds."

Just think about it.

a_ndy said...

@sandlot: Oranges, I can accept. It's more like a generic term. But tangerine, IMHO, is like an attempt to be specific, and failing.

@Jerry: I see what you're saying, and maybe you're correct. However, I'd like to note that just because it is named so does not mean that a "seedless tangerine" is a subset of tangerines. After all, a Red Panda is not a type of Panda at all - it's not even a bear.

But even if you are right, few people refer to squares as rectangles on a regular basis, even though it is categorically correct. And if they did, that would probably annoy me too.