Friday, October 3, 2008

There is only one "u" in nuclear

One of my pet peeves is the pronunciation of the word nuclear as nuculer. President Bush says nuculer, as does Governor Sarah Palin. It makes my teeth hurt when I hear it.

I looked the word up at This is what I found.

—Pronunciation note In pronouncing nuclear, the second and third syllables are most commonly said as /-kliər/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[-klee-er] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation, a sequence of sounds that directly reflects the spelled sequence ‑cle·ar. In recent years, a somewhat controversial pronunciation has come to public attention, with these two final syllables said as /-kyələr/[-kyuh-ler]. Since /-kliər/[-klee-er], the common pronunciation of ‑cle·ar, might also be represented, broadly, as /-kləyər/[-kluh-yer], the /-kyələr/[-kyuh-ler] pronunciation can be seen as coming from a process of metathesis, in which the /l/[l] and the /y/[y] change places. The resulting pronunciation is reinforced by analogy with such words as molecular, particular, and muscular, and although it occurs with some frequency among highly educated speakers, including scientists, professors, and government officials, it is disapproved of by many.

So, I suppose it's acceptable, but I still don't like it.


Barbara J. Kirby Davis said...

I'm more concerned about the financial markets and terrorism than the way someone pronounces a word.

VirtualWordsmith said...

I'm also concerned about the economy and terrorism, Barbara. But, there is so much being said about both issues, what I have to say on those topics is fairly irrelevant.