Date: Mon, 11 Sep 1995 11:58:42 -0400

From: "H. Stephen STRAIGHT (Binghamton University/SUNY)"


Subject: Re: Pronounciation of Oxymoron -Reply

On Mon, 11 Sep 1995, Larry Horn wrote:

Donald Lance just wrote:

People who say 'nucular' also tend to say 'relator' for 'realtor' and

several others that I can't remember at the moment. They also tend to

misspell these words. The -er seems to be a factor in the phonotactics.

I'm sure I've also heard 'nuculus'. DMLance

Is the former claim one there's any empirical evidence for? I tend to think

each of these tendencies (along with others--I have always said 'jewlery' for

'jewelry' but don't do any of the aforementioned bits) goes its own way and

has its own constituency. My impression is that mine (jew-le-ry) is (of

course) more common than 'nucular', which in turn is more frequent than

'feb-u-ary', which in turn is heard more often than 'liberry'.

Well, for what it's worth, the American Heritage Dictionary, known for its

heavily prescriptive cast, explicitly condones 'feb-u-ary' but not

'nu-cu-lar' or 'li-ber-ry', and it's silent on 'jew-ler-y'. Larry's

probably right to doubt that all these non-orthographic pronunciations

hang together, but he's probably wrong to assert that they're

implicationally scaled. Instead, these variants seem to exhibit a rather

complex geo- and socio-lectal distributional diversity.

H Stephen STRAIGHT, Anthro/Ling/Lgs Across the Curric, Binghamton U (SUNY)

Box 6000, Binghamton NY 13902-6000 Tel: 607-777-2824 Fax: 607-777-2889