October 3, 2008

Sarah Palin is another one of these politicians who say "nucular."

And look, there's a Wikipedia entry on "Nucular":

Usage by politicians

U.S. presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, as well as Presidential Candidate Walter Mondale and Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin, have all used this pronunciation.
Ha ha. It's just the special, presidential way to say "nuclear."

65 comments:

Dark Eden said...

I got the feeling she was saying it deliberately to up her appearance of folksiness. That is as much a carefully tailored image as any other a politician adopts. Its funny some of the left can't see this is deliberate.

Simon said...

She also talked a few times about the "pundants" - maybe she's fixed it, or someone should get www.instapundant.com reg'd!

Original Mike said...

Carter was a nucular engineer, no less.

mcg said...

While I agree that she was playing up the folksiness, I'm pretty sure she's used that pronunciation for some time now. In fact I vaguely remember cringing about it because of the association with GWB.

Christy said...

Mocking pronunciation is gratifyingly adolescent.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

And McCain says Warshington. A lot of people do pronounce it that way and it makes me cringe

Tomato TomAto Potato PotAto

So what?

bearbee said...

I Think She's Got It

Michael McNeil said...

Ridiculing dialectal differences like that is great fun for would-be elites but seriously turns folks out in the hinterland against them.

Original Mike said...

I don't think it's a big deal, but it's not a dialectal difference. It's an error. Look at the order of the letters in the word. Next we'll be pronouncing "Favre" as "Farve".

Harwood said...

Christy said... Mocking pronunciation is gratifyingly adolescent.
---
Amen.

Ron said...

So many people say it incorrectly, perhaps we should change it...

bearbee said...
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Sigivald said...

Original Mike: Well, you see, out here in the rest of the world, an "error" in pronunciation is correct if it's common enough.

Otherwise we're all speaking English incorrectly thanks to the Great Vowel Shift.

I appreciate the desire to stand up for Standard English against the tide of horrible neologisms and malapropisms, but a common mispronunciation of "nuclear" doesn't rise to any level of importance.

Original Mike said...

but a common mispronunciation of "nuclear" doesn't rise to any level of importance.

I agree (and I'm in the nucular field).

bearbee said...

Here is Carter talking about nuclear weapons. I can't detect 'nucular.'

And as already stated, so what?

ricpic said...

They also drop their g's. Every last pol drops his g's. It's friggin' maddenin'.

rightwingprof said...

Epenthesis, specifically, anaptyxis.

madawaskan said...

I agree (and I'm in the nucular field).

Oh ya?

Are you in the "p" or the "d" orbital?

Oh and another thing if electrons in an electron pair can trade places how in the hell can they do that if there is zero probability that they will be in the inner most field surrounding the nucleus ...

Damn it. That's what I want to know.

Larry said...

I used to work (as a gopher, test-tube washer, janitor, what have you) in a place that dealt with radioactive materials and the devices for handling them.

The name? United States Nuclear Corporation.

To the best of my recollection everybody there (mostly nuclear chemists and nuclear physists) pronounced it "Yew Ess Newcewlur".

And if regional dialects and verbal tics are all you have on somebody, y'all ain't go nothin.

Nothin atall.

Original Mike said...

Ah, electrons aren't in the nucleus.

Larry said...

Pronounced newcewlus

madawaskan said...

Right protons and neutrons...

But supposedly electrons have zero probability of being in the immediate field surrounding the nucleus because they are naturally repelled.

So how can that be true yet electrons can swap places in an electron pairing?

I never said they were in the nucleus, but ya my joke doesn't work because I was talking about the electron field.

Modern Otter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
madawaskan said...

How are you getting that I think electrons are in the nucleus based on me writing this:

if there is zero probability that they will be in the inner most field surrounding the nucleus ...

Anyways it was a lame attempt at humor and the question is something I have always been curious about.

No biggie.

Modern Otter said...

This 'n' that:

Every time Gov. Palin drops a G, she makes me think of Larry, my high school gym teacher.

I think nook-you-ler (and don't forget Eye-ran and Eye-raq)are nothing more,less or else than playing to the base.

FWIW, the first public figure I heard use "pundant" was Oprah at that big Obama rally early this year.

Original Mike said...

Not sure what you're asking, Madawaskan. My quantum mechanics is pretty rusty.

Deborah said...

At least she doesn't day Qber.

Spread Eagle said...

Hey Wisconsinites, if Favre is pronounced Farve, then nuclear can easily be new-cue-ler no sweat. Why is it a big deal except to poseurs?

Henry said...

I think nook-you-ler (and don't forget Eye-ran and Eye-raq)are nothing more,less or else than playing to the base.

If someone is from the base and they talk like the base they are from is that playing to the base?

Synova said...

I don't hear nucular. It's completely transparent to me. I *think* I say nuclear but I'm pretty sure I grew up saying nucular.

(I also grew up saying the hard "g" at the end of words, which I've softened greatly over time.)

Larry J said...

Yeah, because everyone should talk like they do in New York or Boston. There's certainly no detectable accent in either of those places, right?

Cedarford said...

Original Mike said...
I don't think it's a big deal, but it's not a dialectal difference. It's an error. Look at the order of the letters in the word. Next we'll be pronouncing "Favre" as "Farve".


Now, now, Mike! You say you are in the nuclear field...

If you are, you would recognize that at every Navy nuke vessel and at almost every nuke power plant, the people in the field say "nucular".

I believe it is something that arose in the military, from the high number of Southerners that patriotically serve - and who carried that pronunciation with them when "they-all" went into civilian jobs, nation-wide.

As someone in the energy field, I say 'nucular' when the subject comes up and rarely encounter someone who says it is "wrong" - because most of those people came from military training in nuclear power or nuclear weapons or radiological defense spots.
Those that do, and say "nu-clee-ar" seem to be confined to new engineers fresh out of Northeast Universities with no military time, or time working around those in civilian nuke jobs.

That Midwesterner Ike said to that way means that the common pronunciation started 60+ years ago.

However, not all things Southern are spread to people from other regions. "Fahve" stays with the good ol boys only...

X said...

they say nucular a lot in The China Syndrome

Henry said...

I had a friend in Grad school who was from Alabama. One of the professors was from Alabama via Yale and had the accent of the latter. My friend never tired of mocking the man as a fraud.

So it goes both ways.

mrs whatsit said...

Bearbee, Carter did say nucular, and quite often too. He was very much the target of jibes for it at the time. But I agree with you -- who cares?

It is very much a regional pronunciation, though I'm not sure as to the regions' boundaries. I said "nucular" as a child in a very rural part of Maryland and learned not to say it when we moved North.

Synova said...

Learning to say "yes" instead of "yeah" in AFROTC was like pounding nails with your forehead but the officers in our det made every last one of us Scandi farm-boys and girls purge the vile language of our forefathers from our mouths and instead exhibit crisp and definitive agreement.

Synova said...

Which has nothing to do with anything except that people really do have different habits of speech.

Moving around some makes it more noticeable.

Ben (The Tiger) said...

When I was growing up in Toronto, the kids at the playground said nucular, too -- it sounded more interesting to us...

Original Mike said...

Yeah, Fahve is a southern thing, don't blame it on Wisconsin, Eagle. (actually, I think it's a Fahve thing).

Fatmouse said...

You think "nucular" gets the elites in a tizzy, try saying "WaRshington" in front of them.

Ever member of my family says it that way and also say they're going to waRsh the clothes. (Although, oddly, they call they plant squash.) Try googling "WaRshington" if you'd like to see an acre of smug people sneering at anyone who speaks differently than them.

While the actual pronunciation of words tells little about the person speaking them, I find that people's reactions to such use to be a very handy Shibboleth for finding shallow twits not worth bothering with.

blake said...

Yeah, because everyone should talk like they do in New York or Boston. There's certainly no detectable accent in either of those places, right?

There are parts of The Depaaahted and Gahn Baby Gahn, I just plain wonder if the actors have gotten their tongues pierced.

Ostraciziation through pronunciation and, yes, even grammar, is a time-honored tradition. It's how you tell THEM from US.

bearbee said...

You think "nucular" gets the elites in a tizzy

bearbee said...

"You think "nucular" gets the elites in a tizzy"

Forgot " " marks

rightwingprof said...

"Favre is pronounced Farve"

That's metathesis. Different process.

Chris said...

She pronounced it properly in her acceptance speech.

Rick Lee said...

I used to care about this until I read an article that said that almost everybody in the Army pronounced it "nuke-ular". The article said that it started out as a kind of ironic joke but then it became traditional. A similar process occurred in our household from another ironic pronunciation... sim-ular.

Larry said...

"She pronounced it properly in her acceptance speech."

Full disclosure: I am a Plain fan.

There was a camera on the Obama...errr I mean TelePrompter where it was written "new clear".

Ray Fowler said...

Actually, I am pretty sure Gwen Ifill pronounced it "nucular" last night, too.

Christy said...

Anyone know how Admiral Rickover pronounced it? I've lost touch with everyone I knew who worked for him, but I'm betting they pronounced it the same way he did.

Original Mike said...

Sorry, but the Army is not the controlling legal authority over this matter.

Larry said...

You be the judge.

http://www.howstuffworks.com/nuclear-power.htm

No, this was not a random choice, it was the first link that I looked at from a Dogpile search for nuclear that had an audio track.

Somebody else can look for one.

Christy said...

But Larry, the guy narrating the video uses the secondary pronunciation for "controversial" before he even gets to nuclear, so I don't think you can cite this example.

Original Mile, not the Army, the Navy!

PJ said...

I took the same class, but it's Friday and I'm feeling lazy, so I'll just quote this guy at http://abstractfactory.blogspot.com/2005_10_30_archive.html:

Thoughts on "nucular"
And now for something more trivial... in a lecture I attended two weeks ago, physicist Richard A. Muller of Lawrence Berkeley National Labs mentioned that Edward Teller --- one of the inventors of nuclear weaponry --- used the term "nucular" to refer to the weapons he was creating. As a result, many of the scientists who worked under him, as well as their lineal "descendants" in nuclear weapons science, adopted the term.

So, ironically, you have a situation where most educated people think saying "nucular" signifies that you're an uneducated rube, but if you go into the national laboratories where actual experts in nuclear weaponry congregate, some of those experts commonly say "nucular" and nobody bats an eye.

(Now, the spelling "nucular" never caught on in polite society, but it seems to me that (sorry Jacques) the oral form came first, and therefore the pronunciation "nucular" can claim correctness as easily as the spelling "nuclear".)

Nevertheless, this fact hasn't stopped journalists and even tenured linguists from devising explanations for this "mispronunciation". I wonder whether Kate Taylor, Geoffrey Nunberg, William Safire, or the editors of the various dictionaries concerned ever bothered to ask the inventors of nuclear weaponry as to how they believed it should be pronounced?

Christy said...

PJ, good point. Fact is the early work done in this country on nuclear fission included Poles, Germans, Swiss (I'm thinking German speaker), Hungarian (Teller), Swedes, at least one Cheesehead, and of course, Fermi was Italian. Our linguists must surely have theories on how pronunciation comes to be standardized among workers with several different native tongues.

LoafingOaf said...

It's funny. Every time I'm about to say "nuclear" in conversation I get all self-conscious and overly-careful because I know that I naturally say "nucular" and sometimes some jerk is all, "Ha Ha! You just said 'nucular' like Bush!"

Trooper York said...

I thought Favre was pronounced Sucks.

Fred Drinkwater said...

I dunno. I think there may be more than one Southern way to pronounce Nuclear.
Back in the Cold War, I was tangentially involved in a project making computer systems to contain targeting data for the ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) program. The architects requested the programmers to add checksum verification to each code segment that was loaded, since the I/O hardware didn't even have parity checking.
The programmers complained about how much slower that would make the system.
So one day the lead system engineer tried to bring us around on this point. He drawled:
"I want y'all to remember, there's NUKLIAR bombs attached to this thing. Speed is less important than gittin it right."
So I think I have to insist on NUKLIAR as a legit alternate pronunciation.

MikeR said...

The wikipedia dictionary lists it as an alternative pronunciation. Not a big deal. It's like "comfortable".

yclipse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
yclipse said...

How come none of this phonetic information came to the fore during the last seven years of the "Bush is a moron" meme, which meme was built in large part on his use of this pronunciation?

Larry said...

I have always thought that people who make a big deal out of regional dialects were several bricks short of a hod.

If that is all you have to go on, you have nothing.

Is Steven Hawking a moron?

Leslie Cook said...

If you don't have a problem with a public figure who is running for office mispronouncing words, then don't give people who say "ax" for "ask" as hard time.
Personally, I think there is a big difference between regional dialect and actually putting in a vowel sound that is not there. I can imagine Palin is for teaching phonics in schools: How exactly would that word be spelled phonetically? nucular? Not the same as nuclear. I recognize and appreciate that language does change, but I want policy makers to support this recognition that language does indeed change. Their own use of the language is proof of it.

Larry said...

People who have an issue with the way other people talk are not bright enough to be said to have an issue that matters.

The way scientists in the field pronounce that word is good enough for me.

bunchie said...

As Homer J. Simpson (whose IQ is probably on a par with that of Dubya) explained condescendingly, "It's nucular, not nuclear."

Larry Sheldon said...

As Mr. Sotero says its 57, not 50.