Y-H-B has been listening regularly to the thrice weekly press briefings of the Vermont Governor, Phil Scott (a Republican), who has been speaking at great length about the COVID-19 virus as it applies to the plague in Vermont and neighboring states. Mr. Scott is not a particularly articulate or eloquent speaker, but he does answer questions extemporaneously with considerable ease.
One particularity of Gov. Scott’s speech is the phrase “turn the spigot,” which he repeats whenever asked how soon and at what rate he will ease the restrictions imposed on citizens of Vermont as a result of the plague. The interesting point linguistically in this connection is Gov. Scott’s pronunciation of the word ‘spigot’, which he pronounces without fail with a tense medial obstruent [k] rather than its normative lax counterpart [g]. Moreover, he does not seem to be aware of his anosognosic pronunciation and does not veer from it no matter how many times his questioners repeat the word correctly when addressing the matter of “turning the spigot” a little more, i. e., easing the restrictions imposed by the Vermont state government on its citizens.
The question arises in Y-H-B’s mind: where does this anomalous pronunciation come from? It does not appear in any of the American dialect dictionaries and, therefore, seems to be an idiolectal item in Gov. Scott’s version of Northeast American English.
This idiosyncrasy is a good example of what occurs quite often in the speech of persons who are in every other respect bearers of the linguistic norm. The only question that arises is whether this is simply the quotidian product of a lack of sufficient self-awareness or an instance of speech pathology. If it is the latter, then this is not a perfectly benign behavioral trait to experience on the part of Gov. Scott’s listeners, no matter how anodyne the error.