Some in the United States believe that the word is a play on their pronunciation of the English "speak." The Oxford English Dictionary takes spic to be a contraction of the earlier form spiggoty. The oldest known use of "spiggoty" is in 1910 by Wilbur Lawton in Boy Aviators in Nicaragua, or, In League with the Insurgents. Stuart Berg Flexner, in I hear America Talking (1976), favored the explanation that it derives from "no spik Ingles" (or "no spika de Ingles"). These theories follow standard naming practices, which include attacking people according to the foods they eat (see Kraut and Frog) and for their failure to speak a language (see Barbarian and Gringo).
^[Santiago, Esmeralda. When I Was Puerto Rican. New York: Vintage Books, 1993.]
^"spiggoty". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. citing as an etymology Amer. SpeechXIII. 311/1 (1938) ‘Spiggoty’ originated in Panama during Construction Days, and is assumed to be a corruption of ‘spikee de’ in the sentence ‘No spikee de English’, which was then the most common response of Panamanians to any question in English.