On the Names of the Huchen - Antun Mateš: The enchanted angler

On the Names of the Huchen

Croatian – glavatica, glavačica, huj, sulak
Slovakian – hlavatica, hlavátka obyčajná
Czech – hlavatka
Polish - głowacica
Ukrainian - golovatycja
Slovenian – sulca, sulec
Serbian/Bosnian – mladica
Bulgarian - dunajská sbomka
German – Huchen, Hauch, Hüch
English – Danube salmon - Huchen
Russian – dunajskij tajmen, golovatica
French – le heuch, le saumon du Danube, huchon
Hungarian – dunai galóca, hukó

Krešimir Pažur with one of the many huchen he caught.

While fishing with passion and a great deal of enthusiasm on the rivers Dobra, Kupa and Una for the fish my partner Dr. Krešo Pažur called mladica, I gave little thought to a certain degree of disagreement between the name mladica and concept mladica. In Croatia, the concept mladica is used for a new plant shoot, a newly sprouted branch or a young girl; in fact, for everything young in the female gender (note: in Croatian grammar, all nouns have gender), including fish fry. In fact, I recall being invited on a fishing trip to the Sana in Ključ in Bosnia, where there were many mladica. I thought about declining, because why would anyone travel so far to catch fish fry? But when my friend explained that the mladica in the Sana grew to 30 kilograms, I got excited thinking about how big the old ladies would be, if the young ones were that size. And so, when I went with Pažur to catch “mladica” on the Dobra and the Una, I noticed that some of my older companions, such as Jura Hrastinski and Pišta Daut, who was somewhat younger, called the same fish glavatica. Krešo Pažur paid little attention to the opinion of the other anglers, who were well beneath his academic title of holding a doctorate in Economics. When I asked him to explain this to me, he calmly responded that this was pure stupidity, as the glavatica lived in the Neretva, i.e. was a fish of the Adriatic basin, while the mladica was a fish of the Danube basin and was found in the Sava and the Drava, the Krka in Slovenia, the Kupa, the Dobra, the Una, the Drina and others. Armed with such arguments, I too began to correct my older colleagues, who were incorrectly calling the mladica, glavatica. I became not unlike an apostle, acting as some kind of educator, wisely spreading the voice of truth and enlightening ignorant old anglers who had caught more of these fish than one could count. I spread Pažur's truth reverently, persistently and with fervor, right up until the day when Bunjevčević, a trout angler on the Gacka, gave me a copy of the book Hlavatka by Slovak Samo Ivaška as a sign of gratitude for my help in organizing a fisheries discussion at the Kinoteka Theatre in Zagreb. The book was excellent and very interesting, and I immediately set off in search of a translator, not even suspecting that the relationship between the Czech and Slovak languages is like that of the Croatian and Serbian languages. I succeeded in my quest and paid to have a great deal of the book translated. Even at the very beginning of the book, I came across all different kinds of synonyms for the fish: hlavatka, hlavatica, glavatica, gołowatica and mladica, as Pažur had called it. That single page of listing the names of the fish immediately made everything clear to me, and I saw that Jura Hrastinski was right, but so was Krešo Pažur. The only difference was that Jure called it by its Croatian name, and Pažur called the same fish by its Serbian or Bosnian name.

Original cover of the famed book Ribe (Fish) by Mijo Kišpatić from 1893, one of the first serious books about fish in Croatia.

But this was not the time for any linguistic discussion, as in the 1970s the unitarianism of the Croatian tongue was in full swing, following the dangerous Declaration on the Croatian Literary Language. Not only were deviations not tolerated from the formula that the literary language in use was a single language, be it called “Serbo-Croat” or “Croato-Serb”, but some writers were imprisoned and persecuted for disputing this linguistic violence and were proclaimed heretics. Though I had realized the difference between the use of one name for two fish, it was evident that I could do nothing about it personally, without possibly earning the title of a dangerous counter-revolutionary. In that sense, the literature of the time often contained the rather strange name of mladica-glavatica or glavatica-mladica, just as the name of the language had been called Serbo-Croat or vice-versa. It was only later, when I came into possession of some fisheries literature by Mr. Vladimir Prinz, in the Sarajevo magazine Športski ribar (Sports Fisherman) that was first published in 1926 in both languages and in the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets, that I stumbled onto the very beginnings of a violent abduction of the name glavatica, as would later be proven. The interesting idea of investigating what was in fact literary theft of a name seemed to be exciting, conspirational and mysterious, almost as in the investigations of mystery books and the happenings of William of Baskerville in the novel Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. Only, this time, without any victims. When I had collected enough written evidence, I wrote an article about the glavatica that was published in four parts in the column Velike i male ribe (Big and small fish), in which I clearly and cautiously outlined the dubiosness behind the change in the name. I did not have to wait long for an answer, for this otherwise very popular column in the magazine SN Revija (SN Review) was terminated after just one month. Soon afterwards, the active members of the Communist Party within the Zagreb Fishermen's Society met and officially relieved me of my duties in the Propaganda Commission. My activities in that commission were, after Zvonimir Uzelac, to organize lectures for children, to make films and the like. The trump card that gave me partial amnesty from anti-national intentions directed against the brotherhood and unity was the existence of the Croatian name in Podravina, a region about as far from the Neretva and the Adriatic basin as one could get in Croatia,where the fishing society in Prelog continues to carry the name Glavatica, and as such, Pažur's incorrect theory about the Neretva as the home of the glavatica was simply annulled in there. It was immediately clear to me that I had opened the lid on a serious problem that is very difficult to understand today.

U Kišpatićevoj knjizi izvrsna ilustracija prikazuje glavaticu.

I even went so far as to write a critically intoned article about the possible devastation of the Dobra with a newly constructed plant for rinsing railway cars filled with toxic chemicals near to the river's source in Gorski Kotar, and another in Srpske Moravice, as the town was then known. Tito's regime in Yugoslavia was markedly milder than that in the Soviet Union and in the Eastern Bloc, for while there they simply liquidated people or sent them to the gulag, here you could suffer no more than be left without a kidney, without a job or career for singing an inappropriate song. And so my file became thicker due to the suspicious anti-national activities pertaining to the national names of fish, and reactionary pro-western activities directed against the working class of rinsers of toxic chemicals and matter. The spectre of informants, even in fishing circles, was exceptionally large, you could never know who would point the finger at you and when, as was so well portrayed in the German film Das Leben der Anderen, which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Picture in 2006.I addressed this linguistic problem to a certain extent in Volume One about trout, so there is no reason to repeat it in detail here. It is worthwhile repeating that in the first issue of the newly released magazine Športski ribar (Sports Angler) in 1926, edited by Zdravko Thaller, the question was raised as to the dualism of the name glavatica for two different fish, Salmo hucho and Salmo marmoratus, which was then called Trutta genivitata according to Austrian systematics. Though the intentions were good, particularly those of Vasilij Ristić of Mostar who warned that in Croatia, the name glavatica was used for the fish Hucho hucho, the decision fell upon painter Đoko Mazalić, who in fact abducted the Croatian name of glavatica and instead forced the Serbian name mladica for the same fish, which was confirmed by Pažur some 50 years later. Even though, since then, in official Bosnian and Serbian journals, the Adriatic or marble trout has been called by the stolen Croatian name glavatica, ten years later, Rudolf Maldini of Sarajevo would publish an article entitled National Names of Fish in the journal Ribarski List (1936) in which he lists an interesting grouping of the names glavatica, mladica and others for the species Salmo hucho. He states that the name glavatica is used in Ilidža near Sarajevo, in Sisak, Zemun and Broj, while it was called mladica in Sarajevo, Rača, Bosanska Dubica and on the rivers Bosna, Drina and Una. Other names for this same species were: sulak (Karlovac), sulica (Brod na Kupi), sulač, sulac (Komorske Moravice, Brod), glavačica (Sarajevo, Krapina), glavatić (Varaždin), huj, uj (Osijek), suljak (Severin na Kupi), štulac, šulica (Miholjac). There are many prominent examples of how names of not only fish, but also of towns in Croatia, were serbianized. For example, in 1919, the town of Komorske Moravice was renamed Srpske Moravice.

In search of impressive places to photograph my catches, I penetrated through a virtually impassable trail in my small, orange Citroen, just nudging into the frame on the left, to the village Mateše, where I boasted over this trophy in this sunny clearing.

Recognition granted to the Glavatica Fishing Society from Prelog for its honourable concern for Croatian language identity.

There are countless written records about the name glavatica, from Gazophylacium by Ivan Belostenec from 1774, Kišpatić's Riba (Fish) from 1893, and other listings of this Croatian name. Below I list just a few that warn of the various affiliations of these names:

  • From all the above, it can be concluded that Salmo hucho is called mladica in Bosnia and Serbia, and glavatica in Croatia.
  • Stojičević, in addressing the names of fish, also mentions the mladica and glavatica based on the data of Pančić and states that Pančić*6 brought the name glavatica, and some other fish names, with him in his memory from his native Serbia (Z. Thaller Mladica-glavatica i Neretvanska glavatica Zagreb, 1943)
  • Mladica is called glavatica in Croatian regions, and called mladica in Bosnia …
  • The name "glavatica" implies in certain territories, particularly in Croatia, a salmonid fish, that is called mladica in Bosnia (Rikard Hafner, Sportski ribolov u slatkim vodama, Osijek 1953)
  • In his book Neretva i njene pastrve (salmonide) (The Neretva and its trout (salmonids), Sarajevo 1939, Vejsil Čurčić states:
    • In Hutovo Blato near Čapljina, and along the Neretva to Jablanica, they claim that the zubatak and glavatica are one and the same fish …
    • In the Imperial (today National) Museum in Vienna, there are many large specimens of this fish, from the Soča and its tributaries, from the Neretva and the Krupa. Steindachner called them: Salmo fario, var. Marmorata Cuv., while Heckel called them dentex (zubatak). Dr. C. O. Čeh, in his descriptive work “Die Fischzucht im B. u H.”, Wien 1893, states that the Slavs called Salmo hucho (hlavatica).

    Glavaticza or the fish huchen, recorded in 1774.

    What needs to be said is that the Serbian and Bosnian name mladica for this fish is not at all questionable, they can freely call it both mladica and starica (old lady) it they like. What is questionable, and unacceptable, despite many warnings, is the theft of the name glavatica and forcing that name upon another fish: the Adriatic trout, dentex or marble trout. This trout is called zubatak by the fisherman of Herzegovina, just as stated by Vejsil Čurčić, while they call the toothtrout, Salmo dentex, zubača or zubara, just as the anglers of the Cetina River. In so doing, a dual theft was in fact, a name was stolen from one fish and forced upon another, while its name was eliminated obviously because it had come from the German taxonomy. The confusion caused by this name theft, started by Đoko Mazalić, is seen from the following, almost bizarre example. The precise Austrians, whose ichthyologists Johann Jakob Heckel and Rudolf Kner systematized the toothtrout, Salmo dentex, and the marble or Adriatic trout from the Neretva as Trutta genivittata, wrote an article about the huchen in an excellent book Das Grosse Anglerbuch (The Great Angler's Book) that the huchen, i.e. glavatica, lives in the rivers Isar, Inn, Lech, Möll, Ybbs, Traun, Drina and Neretva!!! Unfortunately, even well reviewed expert books in Croatia, edited by a group of authors with high academic titles, not only repeated the forced Serbian name of mladica, but also eliminated all the synonyms of the glavatica from the basic book Rječnik narodnih zooloških naziva – knjiga treća Ribe (Dictionary of National Zoological Names – volume 3 Fish), by Dr. Miroslav Hirc, Yugoslav Academy of Science and Art, 1956.Therefore, it is even more difficult to accept the problematic tendency for scientists in Croatia, and the majority of anglers, and even the official journal of the Croatian anglers, to sit back and both accept and legalize this linguistic theft. This truly loyal stance, particularly by the Croatian scientists, can hardly be called anything but collaboration. However, any further discussion on the topic extends beyond the scope of this book. According to the rules of courtesy and respecting differences, when in Bosnia, in speaking with local fisherman, I always call this fish mladica, and when in Slovenia, sulac, and so I expected some reciprocal linguistic courtesy, but in vain, of course.

    Salmo marmoratus, Adriatic trout, marble trout or toothtrout. Though it is not called glavatica anywhere in Herzegovina, where it is found, in Bosnia they have forced upon it the stolen Croatian name for Hucho hucho.

    Original photograph of Walter Weber near the Lešće thermal springs and his catch. He caught both huchen on 14 February 1925 on a mounted bullfish (American catfish) purchased at Zagreb's Dolac market; these fish were good imitations for the European bullhead the huchen love to eat. In the margins of the photograph, Weber wrote the name glavatica in his own hand.

    The same photograph printed in Taler's book Ribe i vode Jugoslavije (Fish and the Waters of Yugoslavia) stating the Serbian or Bosnian name for the huchen – mladica.

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