Is it just me, or does it drive you crazy too when you hear someone pronounce the G in Michigan as a K?

I remember hearing my parents play an old country song by Lefty Frizzell when I was little called "Saginaw, Michigan". I thought it was cool that such a popular song name-dropped a town that wasn't too far away, but I could not understand why Lefty's background singers pronounced Michigan correctly and he didn't.

My own grandparents (transplants from Arkansas who called Michigan home for nearly 40 years) even mispronounced it.

WHY? It's a G! Not a K! Why is this so hard for some people?

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Turns out there are a couple potential reasons this happens.

Mispronouncing "Michigan" May Be the Result of a Speech Impediment

According to, some people have particular trouble with "G" and "K" sounds.

Say the word Michigan out loud (with a G sound) and pay attention to where your tongue is. Now say Michigan out loud with a K sound instead, and note your tongue's placement when you say it that way. When your practice this exercise, you'll notice that what your mouth does to make those two sounds is actually pretty close, right?

Pay attention to how the person says other words with G or K sounds. Speech therapy may be helpful if the person in question wishes to seek it.

Mispronouncing "Michigan" May Be a Family Tradition

Simple fact of the matter: we tend to talk like our families do. Full disclosure - I had quite the speech impediment until about 8th grade. In my case, words with "J" came out with a "CH" sound instead. (Again, the tongue placements are quite similar.) I was just a couple years older than my brother, who learned to talk by listening to me. He pronounced his words like he heard me pronounce them.

The same can ostensibly be true of learning how the word Michigan is correctly pronounced. If one family member pronounces it with a K instead of a G, it's likely to repeat itself throughout the family.

Moral of the Story

While pronouncing Michigan with a G sound is correct, realize that those who pronounce it with a K sound probably mean no malice.

But if I hear you say Mitchigan, I will probably explode.

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