Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg misspelled, or is it mis-spelled?

We just get the location of the Four Corners monument straightened out, and here comes another geographic snafu! [Please excuse that this post is about Massachusetts and not Arizona, but it's my blog and I'll wander about sometimes]

One of my friends forwarded this report without indicating the source:

Embarrassed US officials have been forced to admit that they have been spelling Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg wrongly for years. The typos in the country's longest place name were revealed by local newspaper, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, which has been covering the misspelling scandal since 2003. Resolving the issue involved large amounts of research into the two dozen spelling variants for the lake, in Webster, Massachusetts, reports Metro. Eventually, it was determined that the 45-letter Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg was the correct spelling, and that the signs saying 'Lake Chargoggagoggmanchaoggagoggchaubunaguhgamaugg' were wrong, inserting an 'o' for a 'u' at position 20, and an 'h' for an 'n' at position 38. The research also found that the 49-letter variant, Chargoggagoggmanchauggauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg, was the second most common version. The local Chamber of Commerce will now attempt to find out who painted the signs in the first place, and get them to correct them. Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg is commonly referred to as Webster Lake by locals for obvious reasons.

Now, I did my graduate work at UMass-Amherst which is just down the road from this lake, which we usually shortened to Lake "Char." My colleague Art did his dissertation in the Lake Char area so I forwarded this shocking news on to him.

Art, who is now a high and mighty Dean in a prestigious East Coast college, wrote back, "I can tell you that these subtle differences in spelling make a big difference in translation. The correct spelling translates to Lodge of the white man by the great fishing waters. The alternative spellings translate to Lodge of the sheep lovers who put bear poo in your friend's cod piece. Remember, it's important to write well and use those spell checkers, kids!"

Wise words indeed, your Deanship.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you got Art's take on this, Lee. I only regret that I'm going to have to relearn the new pronunciation.

    Have I mentioned to you that Art was my undergrad advisor at Colgate and probably the single most important person in my decision to become a geologist? His freshman seminar on "The Origins of Mountain Belts" made me see the light and turn away from Physics. Hallelujah!