I was just over at the SoHum Parlance blog reading the deconstruction of yesterday's televised VP debates. Sarah Palin -- the Republican candidate from Alaska who luuuuvs to talk about enery, who would talk about energy no matter what question you ask her apparently -- Palin repeatedly pronounced the word nuclear NUKE-U-LER. For many people, myself included, this pronunciation is like fingernails on a chalkboard, chills run down our spine and we instantly disrespect the speaker.
On Eric's blog, some sage anonymous wrote: "Nuclear--the way you say it is a regional accent thing. I say it the way Palin and Bush do, which gets me much good natured (and not) ribbing in the radical circles I frequent."
Note that only "radical circles" even note the mispronunciation. Can we deduce, then, that
radical equals educated?
What is up with the proud claim that it's a regional matter? What region? I was born and raised in West Texas, and my entire family is able to pronounce the word correctly. It is less a regional matter than a literate one.
Once a person has seen the spelling and registered the discrepancy mentally, continuing to mispronounce after that is only a pretension.
Yes, it's true. People actually put on "good old boy" pretensions. Case in point: George Dubya Bush, who only spent a few preteen years in West Texas. But a down-home dialect gives lots of street cred in Texas. Lawyers, businessmen, and bankers all cultivate it because it sounds "friendly" and, ironically, unpretentious to many Texas ears.
So which is Palin: illiterate or pretentious?