u may be pronouncing leicester wrong

congratulations to the leicester city f.c. foxes who against ridiculous odds (probabilities) clinched (secured, guaranteed) the english premier league last monday and celebrated their championship over the weekend after their final home match of the 2015-2016 campaign. before the season started, the foxes were a 5,000 to 1 pick to win the league.

leicester showing off the premier league cup
leicester city f.c. celebrates their premier league championship with their fans. (tom jenkins/the observer)

over the course of the season, as leicester continued to shock everyone, football fans around the world began to ask, “why is leicester pronounced lester?” grammarphobia.com citing the oxford english dictionary, explains

“chester,” [is] a long-defunct noun that originally meant a roman encampment in ancient britain.  this word, spelled ceaster in old english writings, comes from the latin castra (camp), and is “often applied to places in britain which had been originally roman encampments.”

defunct means doesn’t exist anymore.  chester may be defunct as a common noun (thing), but it still exists as a proper noun (name): it is both a first and a last name.

jack chester is john candy's character in the movie 'summer rental'
john candy as jack chester in the 1985 movie ‘summer rental’.
cheetos logo chester cheetah
chester, a cheetah who loves cheetos (restaurant-mascots.deviantart.com)
chester creg from 'american horror story'
neil patrick harris as chester creb in ‘american horror story’.


chester a. arthur, 21st president of the united states
chester a, arthur: the 21st u.s. president is recognized by his facial hair.












the final two syllables of leicester are not pronounced chester though. grammarphobia.com continues

the names of [the] english cities (worcester, gloucester &leicester) are much easier to say than to write. they sound like WOOS-ter (with the “oo” of “wood”), GLOSS-ter, and LESS-ter.  the names of the corresponding counties—“worcestershire,” “leicestershire,” and “gloucestershire”—are pronounced the same way, except that each has another syllable (“sher”) at the end.

so when did chester become just ster?  nobody knows.  grammarphobia says

it would seem at first glance that the “-ster” pronunciation established itself sometime between 1709 and 1764  assuming lexicographers [of the day] were in touch with local usage. however, as a reader of the blog points out, the names “worcester,” “leicester,” and “gloucester” appear dozens of times in the works of shakespeare [1564-1616].

at first glance means just looking once but not analyizing closely. a lexicographer is a dictionary writerin touch is familiar with, connected. point out means show, indicate.

based on the rhythm of the lines of shakespeare where leicester and the names of the other cities appear, the pronunciation was probably the same as it is today.

fun english practice :) richyrocks english on youtube

regardless of when it happened, the correct pronunciation of the current champs of english football is “lester”.  to folks (people) not from the region, including native english speakers, this is confusing.  lester is also a common first and last name; with a more obvious spelling.

cleveland and lester from 'the cleveland show'
cleveland (left) losing pateince with his friend lester (right) on the now defunct ‘the cleveland show’.
chicago cubs pitcher jon lester
jon lester is the starting pitcher for the chicago cubs tonight. (ap/keith srakocic)


lester holt from nbc nightly news
lester holt has been the anchor of the nbc nightly news (u.s.) since last year.
martin freeman as lester nygaard on season 1 of 'fargo'
martin freeman was one of the stars of first season of the series ‘fargo’. his character’s name is lester nygaard.










were u impressed by leicester’s improbable championship? can u name any other chesters or lesters? share your comments under leave a reply


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