21 April, 2009

Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern-schplenden-schlitter-crasscrenbon-nürnburger-bratwustle-gerspurten-mitz-grandlich-grumblemeyer von Hautkopft of Ulm

So here's the thing.

As someone whose home town is the city of Wanganui, which is divided by the Whanganui River, I'm very much aware of the challenges that can attach to correct spelling of placenames. Naturally, I'll be following with interest the process by the New Zealand Geographic Board to potentially change the spelling of the city's name, and am curious what the final outcome will be.

But today I learned that, H or no H, it could be worse.

Officials have agreed to correct spelling errors in road signs pointing to a central Massachusetts lake with a 45-letter name.

Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg in Webster has one of the world's longest place names. It's been spelled many different ways over the years. Some locals have given up and simply call it Lake Webster.

But after researching historical spelling combinations, the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester said local Chamber of Commerce officials agreed that some signs were wrong. There was an "o" at letter 20 where a "u" should have been, and an "h" at letter 38 where an "n" should go.

There are many stories and legends about the origin of the Indian name. One popular myth - later debunked - holds that the name translates roughly to 'You fish on your side, I fish on my side, and nobody fish in the middle.'


Ethan Tucker said...

Indeed it could've been a bit worse: Wanganui township was initially called 'Petre' until 1854.

Matthew L said...

Pronounced "Peter", of course.