Date: Mon, 11 Sep 1995 15:42:51 EDT From: Larry Horn 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. Larry