Howard Bashman’s “How Appealing” can now be found here. Adjust your blogrolls and bookmarks accordingly.
May 2, 2004
Songwriters Bill Cogswell, Tommy Harrison & Johnny Noble didn’t simply invent the word “humuhumunukunukuapua’a” in order to write a song. After all, how could anyone make something like that up? It turns out that there actually is a fish with that tongue-twisting name (pronounced hoo-moo-hoo-moo-noo-koo-noo-koo-apoo-Ah-ah – try that after about five martinis).
Its scientific name, only slightly more pronounceable), is, depending on what one reads, either Rhinecanthus rectangulus or Rhinecanthus aculeatus, but it is also known as the “Picasso Triggerfish” and the “Reef Triggerfish.” In Hawaiian, again depending on which source one reads, humuhumunukunukuapua’a literally means “Fish with a pig’s nose,” or “Fish who comes out of the water and sounds like a pig” (the latter referring to the snorting sounds the fish makes when taken from the water).
Of course, none of this is news to the Hawaiians, who have adopted the humuhumunukunukuapua’a as the unofficial state fish (the Hawaii legislature has not taken action to make it “official..”)
Humuhumunukunukuapua’as can grow up to eighteen inches long and are plentiful along the Islands’ shores. I was fortunate enough to see a bunch of them while snorkeling off Maui. By comparison, humuhumunukunukuapua’as make New Jersey’s state fish, the brook trout, look like a fish in a cheap suit.
I’m glad I got to see them.