Date: Mon, 11 Sep 1995 15:42:51 EDT


Subject: nuclear

May I respectfully suggest to all you linguistic scholars our there that you

consult Merrian Webster's Dictionary of English Usage--available at about

$20..00 per copy --for well-informed, data-supported, non-anecdotal inform-

ation about such matters as the variant pronunciations of _nuclear_, .

OK, so this linguistic scholar consulted (a bit tricky, since the Yale library

system has not seen fit to order a copy of M W's D of E U) and read its well-

informed, data-supported, non-anecdotal entry for 'nuclear', from which I

learned that speakers who pronounce it 'nucular' "have succumbed to the gravi-

tational tug of a far more prevalent pattern" of words ending in -cular

('particular', 'spectacular', 'vernacular', etc.). Gee, I could have sworn

that's what I had mumbled (anecdotally). I'm not sure what makes Merriam-

Webster's opinion more 'well-informed', 'data-supported', or 'non-anecdotal'

than mine, but I am forced to admit that "succumbing to the gravitational tug

of a far more prevalent pattern" certainly SOUNDS more impressive than "analo-

gizing that particular adjective [nuclear] to others with the relatively pre-

valent -(c)ular ending". Unlike my posting, M-W's D of E U does give other in-

stances of the same analogic--oops, sorry, GRAVITATIONAL--reasoning, including

'similar' pronounced 'simular' (gravitating toward 'cellular', 'angular',

'fabulous'), which I find not entirely convincing (I suspect the existence of

'simulate' might be involved as well), and 'nuptual' (tugged toward 'con-

ceptual', although I'd have thought 'actual', 'factual' would be stronger

forces). Oh, and 'jewlery' and 'relator' are both listed as (equally) non-

standard metatheses, which I assume doesn't imply that they're equally

frequent. No data cited anywhere along the way, as far as I can tell, but

interesting reading on the level of (dare I say) anecdotal speculation.