The Postcards of Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg


Yes, that’s the actual name of this Massachusetts lake! Well, it’s one version of it.


s-l1600Officially, the lake is named Lake Chaubunagungamaug, which reflect the oldest Native American name for the small body of water. In Nipmuc, an Algonquian dialect, it means “lake divided by islands,” though a more generous translation could be “Fishing place at the boundaries–neutral meeting grounds.”


s-l1600 (2)According to Ives Goddard, Curator of Anthropology at the Smithsonian Institution, the earliest name for the body of water was Chabunagungamaug Pond. Several variations in spelling were also extant. In 1831, the name appeared as Chargoggagoggmanchoggagogg Pond, which seems to have been a cartographer’s error, confusing the original lake with nearby Manchaug Pond.


s-l1600 (1)The excessively long variation of the lake’s name was actually the creation of a local newspaper editor, along with the fictitious translation of “You fish on your side, I’ll fish on my side, and nobody fish in the middle.” Despite the non-historical origins of the longer name, some locals prefer it, and even take pride in being able to spell and pronounce it in its entirety. It is cited as the longest place name in the United States.


Such an unusual name makes for excellent mementos, and many postcards of the lake have been produced.

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