sputzie or sputzy

Discuss word origins and meanings.

sputzie or sputzy

Post by Laurie Reinders » Wed Dec 21, 2005 8:12 pm

Hello!

I'd truly appreciate your help on this one...

Where does the word Sputzie or Sputzy come from? It's used as a "common" name for the English Sparrow & seems to be a favorite with grandparents/elders from "the old country".

Any or all information is appreciated!
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sputzie or sputzy

Post by haro » Thu Dec 22, 2005 12:51 am

Laurie, in German, especially in Southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland, a sparrow is a 'Spatz' (pronounced 'sputz'). Maybe that's the origin, and the '-y' or '-ie' may have been added to make it sound a bit cuter. No evidence available, though.
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Switzerland

sputzie or sputzy

Post by Ken Greenwald » Thu Dec 22, 2005 2:43 am

Laurie and Hans Joerg, The Southern German connection seems to fit. After doing a little poking around on the net, it appears to me that SPUTZY/SPUTZIE for sparrow is used in areas and cities of Pennsylvania (and some in New York State) which have large German populations, such as Pittsburgh. These folks are descendants of 17th- and 18th-century settlers in Pennsylvania from southwest Germany and Switzerland who are called the Pennsylvania Dutch – Hmm. Wonder why they’re weren’t called the Pennsylvania Germans? Anyway, interestingly, there was a movement in the 1890s to drop the ‘h’ in Pittsburgh, which was evidently supported by the German community, which didn’t much cotton to that extra letter tacked on to a name that clearly should have concluded with the ‘g.’ This actually came to pass, but the decision was reversed in 1911 and the Pittsburgh reverted to its earlier spelling.
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Ken G – December 21, 2005
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sputzie or sputzy

Post by Bobinwales » Thu Dec 22, 2005 1:05 pm

"English sparrow"? Does this come from the same source as English muffins, French fries, and other things that have no connection whatsoever with the country mentioned.

I have never heard the terms Sputzie or Sputzy anywhere in Britain, although I will admit that my personal knowledge of Scotland is a bit sparce.
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sputzie or sputzy

Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu Dec 22, 2005 2:15 pm

Bob, I suspect that when Laurie Reinders speaks of "the old country", she is thinking -- despite her surname and/or the season -- not of Lappland, but of Germany, or possibly even of Switzerland. Certainly the morphology of 'sputz'/'sputzy' is alien to English, but is quite in keeping with German (she does not make clear if the word is pronounced with the German 'Shp' sound, but I'd take a bet that it is).

There is a Scots word for sparrow, 'spurg', which has an obvious common origin with 'sparrow', but there is no Scots 'sputz'/'sputzy'/'sputzie'.
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sputzie or sputzy

Post by Edwin Ashworth » Thu Dec 22, 2005 2:59 pm

It sounds like an assumed name to beat the Cock Robin rap.
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sputzie or sputzy

Post by haro » Fri Dec 23, 2005 1:07 am

Ken, the term 'Pennsylvania German' is correct too (see M-W Online). Dutch and German are very close to each other. The word 'Dutch,' from Middle Dutch 'duutsch,' is etymologically the same as the German word 'deutsch,' which means 'German.' Old English 'theod' (nation) has the same root, by the way.

The Pennsylvania Dutch, i.e. the Amish (originally mostly from Switzerland indeed, their name being derived from the last name of their Swiss Mennonite bishop, Jakob Ammann), other Mennonites, Moravians and members of the Church of the Brethren) got their name from fellow colonists in southeastern Pennsylvania who sort of mispronounced the word 'deutsch.'

Erik, maybe you know that the 'shp-' pronunciation of 'sp-' is not a pan-German thing. Northern Germans pronounce it 'sp-'. However, those folks would call a sparrow 'Sperling,' not 'Spatz.'
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sputzie or sputzy

Post by SputzieLady » Mon Jan 23, 2006 3:18 pm

Sputzie, as the word is used in what had been the largest immigrant clearing house for Luxembourg immigrants in mid-19th century America here in Ozaukee County, Wisconsin: we chuckle at this all of the time...the common house wren here was almost exclusively known as the "sputzie"---especially by people from earlier generations (example: my father who was born in 1910 used this term exclusively for house wrens and almost any type of smaller sparrow). To this day, that's the term we use in our family. Now, you will be in deep trouble if you try to call a Luxembourger a German <very big grin>, but since there was a blend of German immigrants here with the Luxembourgers, I'm assuming they had many similar terms Leutzebuergish and German (?)

We're also one of the rare areas of the USA where a drinking water fountain is called a bubbler--people have made comments to us about that, too.
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sputzie or sputzy

Post by Wizard of Oz » Mon Jan 23, 2006 8:45 pm

.. Sputzie .. where I come from in Aus you find bubblers in every school playground .. however you don't seem to find them as often in public places anymore due to vandalism and fears by authorities on Public Health issues .. it is a common word throughout Australia although other terms such as bubble tap, drinking fountain, drinking tap, water fountain do pop up to a lesser extent ..

WoZ of Aus 24/01/06
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sputzie or sputzy

Post by Laurie Reinders » Wed Jan 25, 2006 6:01 pm

Thank you!

Your replies are fantastic. I never knew a site like this existed & am thrilled to have learned so much in such a short period of time & by such an easy method.

Since all of you are quite litterally from around the world the posts have been useful for me to look up words via search engines to learn even more! (Now I'm hoping you can help with my next post, Who is Yahudi? ;) ).

Since my dad's family originates from Kleve Germany & my mom's is from Italy & Russia & both sides use this endearing term, Sputzie. Since I was spelling it incorrectly I couldn't find the meaning anywhere.

Well, the German word Spatzen certainly fits the bill & since the Germans were the first to settle here (Elm Grove, Wisconsin--a suburb of Milwaukee) & probably were the ones that taught my mom's family how to speak 'english' this makes perfect sense.

It's all fascinating & I'm glad I joined the group!

Thank you again & again! We plan to teach our baby German & it looks like we'll be learning right along with him.

PS-Anja--thanks for the extra info---it helped!
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Re: sputzie or sputzy

Post by jimspice » Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:13 am

REALLY late to the party, but ... another Wisconsinite here affirming sputzie. My particular area, north east WI, was heavily Dutch settled, but come to think of it, it was my dad, whose family, Heinz 57, came west via Ohio << Penn << NY, that I recall using it. We even had a "sputzie gun." It was a .22 rifle loaded with sand -- convenient for chasing off whatever varmint was bothering the garden.
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Re: sputzie or sputzy

Post by JerrySmile » Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:52 pm

Ken Greenwald wrote:Laurie and Hans Joerg, The Southern German connection seems to fit. After doing a little poking around on the net, it appears to me that SPUTZY/SPUTZIE for sparrow is used in areas and cities of Pennsylvania (and some in New York State) which have large German populations, such as Pittsburgh. These folks are descendants of 17th- and 18th-century settlers in Pennsylvania from southwest Germany and Switzerland who are called the Pennsylvania Dutch – Hmm. Wonder why they’re weren’t called the Pennsylvania Germans? Anyway, interestingly, there was a movement in the 1890s to drop the ‘h’ in Pittsburgh, which was evidently supported by the German community, which didn’t much cotton to that extra letter tacked on to a name that clearly should have concluded with the ‘g.’ This actually came to pass, but the decision was reversed in 1911 and the Pittsburgh reverted to its earlier spelling.
_________________________

Ken G – December 21, 2005
Ken is definitely right. It shows up in:

---
Pittsburghese is words that don't seem to exist anywhere else, like grinny (grandmother) and sputzie (I'm not sure what this one means) and redd ... In the Webster's II New Riverside Dictionary, the word cute is defined as delightfully ...

http://tinyurl.com/3nvmc6c
---

and in:

A dictionary of Pennsylvanianisms
Claudio R. Salvucci - 1997


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Re: sputzie or sputzy

Post by djsabor » Fri May 22, 2015 4:40 am

I can also confirm "sputzie" or "sputzy," from East Central Wisconsin German-Americans. The word was used for common sparrows.
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Re: sputzie or sputzy

Post by djsabor » Fri May 22, 2015 4:42 am

I'll also add to the commentary regarding "Dutch" vs. "Deutsch." The term "dutchy" was used in my family to describe someone with a heavy German accent or other German affectations/traits. The term didn't mean "Dutch," but German. As in, "She sounds real dutchy when she talks." Again, this is from the Depression-era/WWII generation and earlier, and I haven't heard it used among anyone younger than that. During WWI and by WWII, people speaking German as a first language in Wisconsin greatly decreased, due to discrimination and hostility regarding the war. This was when the town of New Berlin changed its pronunciation to emphasis the first syllable, for example.
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Re: sputzie or sputzy

Post by djsabor » Fri May 22, 2015 4:47 am

(Nothing like posting almost ten years after the original question.)
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