Protocol and a query

Mike Salovesh t20mxs1 at CORN.CSO.NIU.EDU
Fri Feb 4 06:59:50 UTC 2000

Rudolph C Troike wrote:

>         Query: When I brought up the usual observation about the /krIk/~
> /kriyk/ difference in <creek>, one student from the northeast observed
> that he had differentiated the two in meaning, using /I/ for smaller
> streams (what Southerners might call a "branch"), and /iy/ for larger. I
> wonder if this was purely idiosyncratic, or possibly more widespread along
> the /iy/:/I/ border?  -- Rudy

I share this idiosyncracy with your student from the northeast.  In my
speech, a /krIk/ is a small dribble of wetness of the kind you can step
over dryshod, while a /kriyk/ is a bigger, permanent waterflow.  When
you cross a /kriyk/, you expect to get your feet wet -- you can't jump
over most of them.  Neither a /krIk/ nor a /kriyk/ is a navigable

Some streams that are navigable (by canoe, johnboat, dory, rowboat,
faltbot, or small kayak) are named <Something> Creek, however. The name
takes precedence over the nature of the beast in my speech,  and for a
navigable waterway named <Something> Creek I say /kriyk/.

My idiolect also includes a rule that when "Creek" is part of the kind
of place name you see on a map, I always say /kriyk/, never /krIk/.
(The only example that comes to mind off the top of my head is a town
called "Stanns Creek" in Belize, but  that pronunciation is a
continuation of my usual practice here in the Midwest.)

I have no idea whether anyone else shares this idiosyncracy -- I just
haven't listened for it, and the word doesn't come up that frequently.
But using both forms according to the rules cited here sounds perfectly
natural to me.

Mind you, I avoid the /krIk/ form when talking with Chicagoans, despite
considering myself more a Chicagoan than anything else.  Most Chicago
dialects are so firmly on the /kriyk/ side of the border that /krIk/
first gets a blank look, then a double take: "Oh, you mean /kriyk/.  Why
didn't you say so?"

-- mike salovesh                    <salovesh at>

P.S.:  I heartily second Rudolph's suggestion that quoting the full text
of every message in a thread is not really a good idea unless you're
going to comment on every previous line. We aren't allocated much
storage space on the university server I use, and once in a while my
account goes screwy because incoming mail exceeds my limit.  (After all,
I can't be on line for 7/24 to clear up the jams!)

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