News about Lake Margrethe, LMPOA, and environmental conservation will be posted here, but we would also like to add interesting stories, photographs, artwork, historical articles, and fun facts that come from our community. The following essay was written by Nancy Hanson Wilcox Karger about Lake Margrethe's pronunciation.
"Lake Margaret" please; not "Lake Mar-greth-the"
by Nancy Hanson Wilcox Karger
July 29, 1998
I've just learned that the lake that was named after my great-grandmother, Margrethe Hanson, is taking on a different pronunciation than it had during the "1940's and 1950's," when I grew up along those banks. At that time, there were four generations of women in my family with the name, "Margrethe," who lived in various cottages along the east shore of their namesake lake.
In the "1920's," then Michigan Governor Ferris recognized an early Grayling settler, Rasmus Hanson's donation of thousands of acres of land to the state by renaming the beautiful little lake west of Grayling from Portage Lake to Lake Margrethe, honoring Mr. Hanson's wife. That same name has been carried into the seventh generation of the Rasmus Hanson family tree.
The family has always pronounced the name by its Anglo-Saxon version, "Margaret," because "Margrethe" is simply the Danish spelling of that name. (The Danish spelling of the family name "Hansen," was Anglicized to "Hanson"). Although I don't speak Danish, I have been told that the pronunciation of "Margrethe" by the native tongue would be "Mar-great-ah" (with a guttural "g"). In the years that my family lived in Grayling, we found that the lake, pronounced, "Marg-reth," though incorrect, was tolerable; however, "Mar-greth-the" was so far off that its dissonance caused a shudder similar to that of the discord of a mistaken musical note.
The history of language shows how words have evolved as a result of local usage. Certainly, no French person would pronounce the local Au Sable River, "Ah-sob-el," ("O-Sabl" would be more like it); but then, there weren't too many French speaking settlers in Grayling. There were a great many Danes, though, so please say, "Lake Margaret," not "Lake Mar-greth-the," until we Danish descendants of the town have become as extinct as the grayling trout.