Posted by jennifer gibson on Wednesday, October 1, 2014

I was watching Sleepy Hollow and realized that Ichabod was pronouncing the word "Lieutenant" as "Leftenant". I had to put the show on pause and ponder about that.  I was supremely curious as to the origins of why it was said like that.

Since I'm Canadian and used to hearing and spelling certain words in a particular manner, such as "colour", "favourite" with the letter u in it since it denotes to our British ties, namely the Queen, I began to wonder why it sounds different on American shows.

I did a little bit of research, and avoided Wikipedia like the plague since it's filled with mostly public opinions rather than fact, and came across various explanations, some that were rather bizarre and far fetched as well as others that seemed more historically correct. 

Etymonline indicates that spelling with lef- dates to the 14th century, but that the origins of that spelling (and presumably its associated pronunciation) are “mysterious”. The word comes originally from Old French, and according to the OED, Old French replaced word- and syllable-final [w] with [f]; for the Modern French word lieu, this is shown by an Old French spelling variant luef.

Isn't that cool?

Tags: "sleepy hollow"  "lieutenant"   
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