nucular and Latino

Peter Farruggio pfarr at UCLINK4.BERKELEY.EDU
Wed Nov 14 14:27:32 UTC 2001

My two cents' worth:

Latino:  this is an example of code-switching, albeit for only one word in
your cited examples.  The research on code-switching shows that it
(code-switching) is usually performed for rhetorical effect: to make a
point.  At least when it's performed by strong bilinguals, who control both
codes and COULD use the other language to say the same thing if they chose.

  When I have seen this ("Latino") done by Latins (and I too have done it,
and am half Latin and a strong bilingual) in the US, I have taken the point
that the speaker was doing it for identity purposes, as if to say, "Hey, I
may be using the official code, but I am Latin and proud of it"  I have
heard Latin newscasters do the same thing with Spanish place names (which
are universal here in California), and I have always interpreted the
purpose as being an identity claim

Nucular:  I remember this annoying mispronunciation (to me) being started
in the early 1960s by Southern US senators and congressmen on TV.  These
were powerful white men, whom nobody dared to criticize, at least not in
the media.  It was annoying to me because it was so unchallenged given  the
speakers'  social position in a racist society, and it was a sign of their
ignorance and hubris (to me).  I remember other white Southerners of the
time, of a more liberal persuasion, pronouncing the word correctly.

It was as if the mispronunciation was a way for these segregationists to
publicly revel in their "southernness" which meant white privilege. For me
in the North, this was one of many little code markers for one's political
position on race and segregation in the South during the civil rights movement.

Pete Farruggio

At 12:30 AM 11/14/01, Paul Frank wrote:
>Two unrelated questions:
>How come many Hispanic and non-Hispanic native speakers of English pronounce
>"Latino" and "Latina" as if they were Spanish words when they're speaking
>English? I just heard somebody on NPR hesitate for a split second to switch
>to Spanish for that word and then back to English. It doesn't sound natural
>to my ears. And I'm a native speaker of Spanish.
>I also have a question about pronouncing nuclear as if it were pronounced
>"nucular." George W. Bush says nucular. Eisenhower used to say nucular. How
>about other presidents? How common is this pronunciation?
>Paul Frank
>English translation from Chinese, German,
>French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese
>Tel. +33 450 709 990 - Thollon, France
>E-mail: paulfrank at

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