Spelling Of Lake's Name Was All Wet

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/103295533/103295514" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
  • Transcript
Lake Webster's Correct Indian Spelling i

Right. hide caption

itoggle caption
Lake Webster's Correct Indian Spelling


There's a three-mile long lake in central Massachusetts that has a Native American name that stretches for 45 letters.

Nowadays most people call it Webster Lake. But the cumbersome pronunciation of its traditional name was the subject of "The Lake Song," a 1954 novelty item by Ethel Merman and Ray Bolger.

Sadly, in 2003, two local signs erected in Webster, Mass., got the spelling of the name wrong. That's being corrected.

Richard Cazeault, president and director of the Webster Lake Association, tells Robert Siegel that the lake is surprisingly well known in other parts.

"I've had the opportunity to travel quite a bit around the world," Cazeault says. "It's unbelieveable how many people know about this lake. It's really good to be able to say the name correctly to the people I talk to."

And what does the lake's name mean? None of the lore is terribly reliable, but a long-ago editor of the local newspaper published the one that is most commonly used:

"You fish on your side, I'll fish on my side and nobody fishes in the middle."

(To hear Richard Cazeault, Ethel Merman and Ray Bolger pronounce the name of the lake, listen to the link at the top of the story.)



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.