I bought my teenaged son a piece of furniture this weekend, and realized to my horror, that I had been mispronouncing the name of it in my head forever. I bought him a chest of drawers, which I had been thinking of as “chester drawers” since I was young. The salesman tactfully corrected my pronunciation.
Chester drawers — that’s what we called it in my house. I can blame my parents, I guess. Somehow, I’d made it into adulthood without ever needing to buy this particular piece of furniture because there were always plenty of chester drawer hand-me-downs from relatives.
This incident reminded me of two other tricky words. When I was in elementary school, I used to call the library a “liberry,” until some neighbor kid corrected me. Although I went to the liberry a lot, apparently it wasn’t often enough to learn its true name.
Then there’s the iconic local landmark of “Anger Tower.” The foreboding dark stone tower was built atop one of Duluth’s tallest hills. We could see it from my neighborhood before the trees grew and blocked the view. Because it seemed the kind of place where a person would be locked up if they got others angry, it made total sense in my child’s mind to call it Anger Tower. Or maybe it was where angry people lived. But I learned later in junior high school that its real name was Enger Tower after a local business man.
I don’t know. Enger Tower just doesn’t have the same ring. Sometimes real names aren’t as good as the made-up ones. Are there any word pronunciations that surprised you as you grew older?