Date: Mon, 2 Mar 1998 15:46:00 -0500
From: "Dennis R. Preston" preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PILOT.MSU.EDU
Subject: Re: Semantic distinc. betw. "crick" and "creek"?

Nope Pat,

dInIs has only 'creek.' I think you are remembering the fact that I have
native 'greazy' and a later-learned 'greasy' for which I have the semantic
distinction 'dirty, big-time grease' for the first and light delicate stuff
for the latter. But, in fact, I don't like 'greasy' (or the verb 'grease')
for the lighter stuff. Instead of the incorrect 's' pronunciations of these
words, I would usually say 'oily' (and 'oil'). (By the way, I have 'all'
for 'oil' but no such change in the diphthong for 'oily' I just realized. I
am sure the vocalized 'l' in the former is to blame.)


Most of the student I teach from rural areas (Western NY and Central NY)
distinguish the difference in size between the smaller "crick" and larger
"creek"; many also use different pronunciations for each. Some of folks I
knew from Southeastern Ohio also distinguished both semantically and
phonetically. dInIs does, don't you dInIs?

At 11:32 AM 3/2/98 -0500, you wrote:
A correspondent wrote in about an alleged semantic distinction
between "crick" and "creek." This writer, who is from an unspecified
but "rural" part of the country, claims that he uses both pronunciations,
but that a "crick" was smaller than a "creek." He states that he has
had a long-running disagreement with his wife about this, and he recently
found someone else who makes this distinction. DARE doesn't show any
semantic distinction, and Joan Hall isn't otherwise aware of any.

Is this distinction familiar to anyone on the list?

Jesse Sheidlower
Random House Reference

Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736