"nuptuals" for nuptials

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Fri Feb 3 17:14:29 UTC 2006

On 2/3/06, sagehen <sagehen at westelcom.com> wrote:
> A short piece on NPR's Morning Edition today, regarding a trend toward
> substituting charitable contributions for wedding presents, was read with a
> consistent pronunciation  "nuptual/s" for_nuptial/s_.
>   It sounded familiar enough that I know I've heard it before. It made me
> wonder: is it regional or merely random, occasional confusion influenced by
> _factual, conceptual _, &c?

It's relatively common in AmE -- I don't believe there's any regional
variation to it. MWCD includes that pronunciation but gives it the
dreaded obelus:


The obelus is explained here:

The obelus, or division sign, is placed before a pronunciation variant
that occurs in educated speech but that is considered by some to be
questionable or unacceptable. This symbol is used sparingly and
primarily for variants that have been objected to over a period of
time in print by commentators on usage, in schools by teachers, or in
correspondence that has come to the Merriam-Webster editorial
department. For instance, the second variant of cupola \'kyü-p&-l&,
÷-"lO\, though used frequently in speech, is objected to because a is
very rarely pronounced \O\ in English. The pronunciations
\'fe-by&-"wer-E\ and \'fe-b&-"wer-E\ (indicated simultaneously by the
use of parentheses) are similarly marked at the entry for February
\÷'fe-b(y)&-"wer-E, 'fe-br&-\, even though they are the most
frequently heard pronunciations, because some people insist that both
r's should be pronounced.

Translation: "Stop sending us your pronunciation pet peeves!"

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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