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I recently was making a list and for the first time using a digital device, typed in what I grew up referring to an outdoor faucet 'spicket' as into my iPad.

My mother grew up in Utah and my father in. Nebraska, Utah, Wyoming and Idaho. Mom's parents in Salt Lake and Central Utah while Dad's parents in Tennessee and the Western states.

I looked up how to spell spicket and for the first time in my 35 year teaching career found again that I have been mispronouncing and misspelling a word.

I am wondering which parts of the country use spigot and who says spicket?

Who knew?

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spicket

Definition of spicket

chiefly South & Midland [Middle USA] : spigot

(Merriam Webster)

  1. Do you use "spigot" or "spicket" to refer to a faucet or tap that water comes out of?

    a. spicket (6.38%)
    b. spigot (66.89%)
    c. I use both interchangeably (2.52%)
    d. I say "spicket" but spell it "spigot" (12.64%)

(Vaux, Bert and Scott Golder. 2003. The Harvard Dialect Survey. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Linguistics Department).

  • 5
    I'm from the South, and it's spigit. – RonJohn Jun 24 at 19:18
5

In a comment, John Lawler wrote:

Just as /d/ and /t/ neutralize after a stressed vowel before an unstressed one (writer/rider, catty/caddy), so do /ɡ/ and /k/, and for the same reason -- vowels are voiced and tend to voice consonants between them, especially short consonants like voiceless stops. This means that it's very hard to hear the difference in that context, and therefore usually not worth making the effort to distinguish them in speech. It isn't, afaik, a geographic phenomenon, just a personal one, though it may be socioeconomic in some cases.

  • 2
    This doesn't happen in British English. "Writer" is not pronounced like "rider". The "t" is sounded like a "t". – Phil Rogers Jun 25 at 11:10
  • @PhilRogers It's not common in American English either. Neither is pronouncing 'catty' like 'caddy'. I think it might be that when not being able to hear the difference between sounds is highly correlated to not being able to pronounce them. – JimmyJames Jun 25 at 17:10
  • Americans don't aspirate t's in the middle of words, which can make them sound like d's to an English ear. Americans say "right - er" not "rye- ter." – Tim Grant Jun 25 at 17:49
  • @TimGrant The rules for aspiration are more complex that that. It's aspirated at the start of a stressed syllable even midword: satanic, spectacular, pretentious, potato, intention, catatonic. And there are no flaps in retentive. – tchrist Jun 25 at 18:54
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    I don't think this explanation works. As Peter Shor says in on comment on the earlier question about spicket/spigot, we don't hear the same variation with most other words with ck or g: there aren't a bunch of people who think bigot sounds just like "bicket" (or bucket sound just like "bugget", or trigger sounds just like "tricker"). The neutralization of /d/ and /t/ is not normally accompanied by a neutralization of /g/ and /k/, so I don't see how that could explain the pronunciation of the specific word spigot as "spicket". – sumelic Jun 25 at 22:28
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https://pittsburghspeech.pitt.edu/PittsburghSpeech_PgheseOverview.html

Spicket is very common in the "Pittsburghese" dialect spoken in western pennsylvania, but it is clearly a corruption of "spigot".

  • 4
    The OED has quite a few rather old citations of this word, with several from the 1600s and a couple dating back into the 1400s. How then is it “clearly” a “corruption”? – tchrist Jun 24 at 21:20
  • 1
    @tchrist The OED also clearly notes its etymology as an alteration of spigot. – J... Jun 25 at 17:25
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In my 67 years growing up middle class in North Carolina, the word in question was commonly understood to be spelled spigot and pronounced spickit.

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