Pronunciation Dialogue

Richard Pyle deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG
Tue Jun 25 14:18:25 CDT 2002

> At one point, he mentioned - and I will try to give his
> pronunciation as best I can - the family KAY-RAM BEEKEE - DAY.  I
> recall that Ed and I looked at one another as in, "What the hell is that?"

I realize I'm a bit behind on this thread (which is OK, because I don't plan
to participate much more beyond this note...), but Robin's post reminded me
of a similar anecdote.

Years ago, I took a well-known German underwater photographer (Helmut
Debelius) for a dive at a particular reef off Waikiki Beach.  After we
finished the dive and climbed back in the boat, Helmut remarked, "I saw a
lot of pottery down there."  I immediately knew what he must have meant,
because the reef we were diving on lies beneath the path that many of the
"sunset cruises" (large boat-loads of tourists who pay to eat dinner
offshore on a cruise boat while watching the sunset) follow each evening.  I
have found near-complete sets of ceramic plates, coffee cups, etc., that are
periodically dropped overboard by clumsy tourists, or deliberately tossed
overboard by disgruntled bus boys. In fact, I once found a whole set of very
nice "Windjammer" dinner plates, which I still use to this day.

So anyway, I replied to Helmut something along the lines of, "Oh, yes...I
know.  It's all over the place down there.  Sometimes I bring them up, if
they are in good shape -- I've even got some in my kitchen right now."
Helmut gave me a confused look, and after an awkward silence he followed up
with "I took several good photos of them."  I thought this somewhat odd --
why would a fish photographer waste time taking underwater pictures of
discarded cups and plates? -- so I said, "It never occurred to me to take
pictures of them, but I guess it could be interesting."  More awkward
silence, and then Helmut said, "I'm surprised that you never photographed
them yourself -- they are so abundant, and beautiful -- especially the

By this point, it was becoming quite difficult to reconcile the twisted
logic of our conversation, but then I finally figured it out. Helmut was
taking pictures of the Hawaiian endemic Potter's angelfish -- Centropyge
potteri -- which I had always pronounced as "potter-eye".  I'm not sure
Helmut ever understood my half of that peculiar conversation, but when we
stopped by my house later that same day, he seemed to glance around my
kitchen to see where I kept the aquarium....


Richard L. Pyle
Ichthyology, Bishop Museum
1525 Bernice St., Honolulu, HI 96817
Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252
email: deepreef at
"The opinions expressed are those of the sender, and not necessarily those
of Bishop Museum."

More information about the Taxacom mailing list