Language evolves. I understand that.
In fact, I predict that more and more dictionaries will come to include one or all of our our commander in chief’s pronunciations of “nuclear” (noo-kyoo-ler, or sometimes nuclar, or even new-kee-ler) until they are fully accepted as correct.
But I and other right-thinking people can certainly try our damnedest to fight it every step of the way.
I don’t really mind so much when some benighted southern yokel pronounces it incorrectly. After all, they may never have actually heard anyone pronounce it properly.
But I start to twitch when the people who can’t say the word have some intimate or expert connection to it. I’ve heard nuclear weapons experts screw it up. And Bush himself really should try harder given that he (A) attended Yale and (B) has his finger on the trigger of the largest nookyewwlur weapons arsenal in the known universe.
Imagine how annoyed you would be if his petulant voice suddenly drawled over the Emergency Broadcast System saying “I regret to inform you folks that I have, uhh, authorized a full scale newwkyoulair attack on the former Soviet Union”? The only thing worse than anthropogenic apocalypse would be having Bush cause it while not being able to pronounce it.
Which brings me to Jay Solomon, a reporter with the Wall Street Journal who did a two-way today with Robert Siegel on All Things Considered. He was discussing last year’s refreshingly non-apocalypse-causing attack by Israeli jets on a mysterious Syrian target.
Mr. Solomon’s position at the Journal implies an impressive pedigree, though a hasty google was unable to turn it up. Additionally, in the way that reporters must become quick experts on the subjects they cover, he can be considered something of an expert on nuclear politics.
Yet there he was, nucucumberylering it every time he said the word during the report. Shouldn’t we expect the system that selects from the cream of the ivy league cream to work at papers like the NY Times and the WS Journal to produce people who can pronounce nuclear?
And why didn’t Siegel correct him? Too shy? If Siegel and Solomon’s mother haven’t done it by now then I guess it’s up to me. After all, proper pronunciation of the word is quite simple.
Feel free to anonymously email a link to this post to anyone who needs to know:
How to Pronounce “Nuclear” Almost Like an Educated English Speaker
( Soon to be a popular YouTube video, I feel sure )
Step 1. Say “New”, as in “New York Times”.
Step 2. Say “Clear” , as in “the journal strives for clear writing!”
Step 3. Now say them quickly as in “After my dermabrasion I’m enjoying my new clear skin!”
Step 4. Now every time you have to say “nuclear” say “new clear” instead. It really works!!
There, isn’t that so much easier than getting a job at the Wall Street Journal was? Since you could do that I just knew you could say “new clear”.
Bush, however, I’m not sure about. One school of thought posits that his folksy spoonerisms, malaprops, and anencephalies are intentional. But I don’t believe that theory. I don’t think the unholy stem-cell love clone made from combined mouth swabs of Tom Hanks and Billy-Bob Thornton would be that good at playing brain-injured.
So, Jay, fight the lobotomy Rupert Murdoch is in the process of performing on your famous paper!
Help us hold the line on the proper pronunciation of what is probably the scariest word in the entire English language!
Or else stick to typing it and stay off the radio.