Jump to content

“An historic” or “A historic”…


Recommended Posts

On 6/13/2022 at 12:17 PM, Toth said:

Damn, this question brings me back. In high school I got scolded for using "an" before a silent "h" like when saying "this is an honest deal", probably because I felt it read much smoother, but also likely as a carry-over from French.

In any case, that teacher trainee insisted that "an" is never used because "h" is not a vowel. Then again, the same teacher trainee gave me an F in spelling and grammar in every single damn exam because she insisted that every single use of a comma is a mistake because the English language uses it only scarcely. So what do I know...

 

I say "an honest mistake" (although that's usually a lie).  At least in the northeast US either "a honest mistake" or "an honest mistake" in conversation would be completely acceptable and probably not even be noticed

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Larry of the Lake said:

 

I say "an honest mistake" (although that's usually a lie).  At least in the northeast US either "a honest mistake" or "an honest mistake" in conversation would be completely acceptable and probably not even be noticed

The only way it would be noticed is if the sentence didn't also include either "motherfucker," "go fuck yourself" or "fuck you." 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 6/14/2022 at 7:29 PM, dog-days said:

I was even more lost than usual in this thread, then eventually figured out that in received pronunciation, the indefinite article is very rarely pronounced with the value /eɪ/, so the chances of a historical being heard as ahistorical are quite slim in Britain. 

 

But also I can't think of a situation where 'ahistoric' wouldn't get its own indefinite article in a situation where 'historic' would. ie 'an ahistoric' is easily distinguishable from 'a historic'. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Reading up on this a bit more (thank you, “Christian Science Monitor” and its section on grammar)….

This issue has been brewing since 1066. Old English had a clear and hard “h,” as exemplified by the first word in “Beowulf” as “Hwaet” which was a hard h being voiced in the beginning of the word “what”. Then came the Norman conquest, and the new overlords spoke French, which does not voice a beginning h. So, the h dropped out of fashion.

Then, the Victorian middle classes decided to separate themselves from the working classes by enthusiastically voicing the h wherever it was found, including “hospital” and “hotel” which are actual French words. 

“Historical” and a few other multi-syllable “h” words (I’ve forgotten the others) sound more harmonious to about 1/3 of English speakers, with the above in mind given the fact that at one point, and for quite some time, the “h” in “historical” would have been somewhat silent.

Unfortunately, given the fact that Senator Mitch McConnell used the phrase “an historical event” for the Supreme Court striking down Roe v Wade, I will moderate my previously unbridled enthusiasm for “an historical” as I must transition away from being on the same side of any issue that is supported by the Senator, including a grammatical quirk.

 

Edited by Chataya de Fleury
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, HoodedCrow said:

The English language drifts, and accumulates, despite our individual preferences. Go with it:)

That said, I do think Toth's high school teacher was talking complete nonsense.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gosh, what would Toth’s teacher do with semi-colons? Some of my DH’s family used 4 different versions of the same last name. The weren’t so data driven then. People didn’t always record exactly when they were born in any calendar.

My very friendly third cousins are Yorkshire lasses. They teased me for saying “hhhorse” instead of “orse”. In turn, I taught then to say “ bloody bugger” with an American Great Lakes version, and they taught me to say it with a Yorkshire accent. Lots of giggling ensued. We were around 12.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, dog-days said:

That said, I do think Toth's high school teacher was talking complete nonsense.

Indeed; it is the semicolon which is used more rarely, not the humble, workaday comma. The em dash is used infrequently, even more so than the semicolon.

I, however, have used the em dash in an SEC filing, with the full approval of our legal team.

Edited by Chataya de Fleury
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 6/13/2022 at 1:39 AM, Tywin et al. said:


Special shoutout to @mormont for "Cut and dried." Pretty sure my whole life up until a few years ago I said "Cut and dry" and basically everyone I heard or saw use the phrase did the same thing.

Never heard that before.  Always been cut and dried here.  Maybe Minnesota language has more hairdresser influence than the King's English we speak in CT.

Looks like the ahistoric versus an historic difference has been covered sufficiently.

Still trying to figure out how wide spread the use of nother is.  I never to my best knowledge use that, except as part of "a whole nother" construction. Though there I use it just about all the time. Everyone around here says, for example, "Wert is on a whole nother level of SF knowledge" instead of "is on another whole level".  Is that Connecticut thing, a Northeast thing, an East coast thing, a US thing, or an English in general thing?

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, mcbigski said:

Never heard that before.  Always been cut and dried here.  Maybe Minnesota language has more hairdresser influence than the King's English we speak in CT.

Looks like the ahistoric versus an historic difference has been covered sufficiently.

Still trying to figure out how wide spread the use of nother is.  I never to my best knowledge use that, except as part of "a whole nother" construction. Though there I use it just about all the time. Everyone around here says, for example, "Wert is on a whole nother level of SF knowledge" instead of "is on another whole level".  Is that Connecticut thing, a Northeast thing, an East coast thing, a US thing, or an English in general thing?

I think it is a mostly CT-RI-MA thing. I've wondered about this many times.  

*I grew up near Storrs, CT

Edited by Larry of the Lake
Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 hours ago, dog-days said:

That said, I do think Toth's high school teacher was talking complete nonsense.

6 hours ago, HoodedCrow said:

Gosh, what would Toth’s teacher do with semi-colons?

Lol, yeah, preach it! XD I must say, I had quite a bone to pick with her, what with my grade crashing down from A- to C in the final high school year because of her. It was so bad that to one of my exams I wrote a three pages "correction", explaining why half the mistakes she marked weren't actually mistakes. I guess I do give her credit for replying with a similarly long response where she accepted some of those objections.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 minutes ago, Toth said:

Lol, yeah, preach it! XD I must say, I had quite a bone to pick with her, what with my grade crashing down from A- to C in the final high school year because of her. It was so bad that to one of my exams I wrote a three pages "correction", explaining why half the mistakes she marked weren't actually mistakes. I guess I do give her credit for replying with a similarly long response where she accepted some of those objections.

I very much appreciate your idiomatic English (which would be authentic spoken English to any native speaker) surrounding your description of this whole ordeal…where, to her, your English wasn’t “good enough”.

It was truly an ordeal. Jaysus.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Toth

For future reference, the correct response to English Language pedants is "Humpty Dumpty". This is a reference to a quote from the classic Lewis Carroll Alice books. It starts:

Quote

"When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less."

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...