In my last post I said that, "After hearing Edwards say "preventative" instead of "preventive", I don't want to hear anymore complaints about how Bush pronounces nuclear."
I was going to reply in my comments until I realized it was going to be so long that I should make it a new post instead.
I consider "nucular" to be a pronunciation due to dialect rather than to ignorance. (On the other hand, bias against this pronunciation is due to ignorance.) I realize it's not the standard pronunciation of the word but just because it isn't standard or RP English doesn't mean it is wrong.
Preventative instead of preventive is common enough that you will find it in dictionaries. That doesn't make it the preferred pronuciation, just shows that there are enough users of the word to merit its inclusion. The difference is that the mispronunciation of preventive is more widespread while "nucular" is more usual in the southern U.S. (although not limited to there.)
For a long time the northeastern U.S. had been the center of economic and political power and this created a bias against the more agrarian south, including linguistic discrimination. This discrimination is one of the few that is widely tolerated in our country (although that can depend upon who the speaker is). Imagine if a black politician used the dialect pronunciation "aks" instead of "ask" and his pronunciation was mocked the way Bush's pronunciation of nuclear is.
Bartleby.com has A Practical and Authoritative Guide to Contemporary English that lists words with multiple pronunciations. Most people who read through the list will find at least one word where the standard/traditional/preferred pronunciation differs from the way they usually pronounce it. That doesn't make you wrong or stupid for pronouncing the word that way.
Except for those of you who say "snuck" instead of "sneaked" (which isn't on that list). You're just plain wrong.Posted by marybeth at October 6, 2004 03:08 PM Words