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July 5th, 2005
11:41 pm
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Pet peeve
"An historic."

The rule is that you use "an" before a vowel sound and "a" before a consonant sound. "It is an honor." That H is silent. "He is a Hispanic." That H is pronounced.

I don't know any Americans who pronounce "historic" as "iss-TOHR-ic". (If so, do they also pronounce "historian" clipped? What about "hypothesis"?) And yet some insist on using "an historic" in writing, because, I don't know, it sounds more pretentious or something.

I'm a fan of language changing with the times. I could less care about split infinitives. And I start sentences with prepositions all the times. But language changes like that are a matter of style, while certain things -- like its/it's -- are just matters of being wrong. (Sometimes a subtle distinction, but I warned you this was a pet peeve.)

"An historic" is wrong.

(Further reading: http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/anhistoric.html,

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(5 comments | Leave a comment)

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Date:July 7th, 2005 01:15 pm (UTC)
Actually, that might be a regional thing. Dropping a leading H on "historic", "historian", "hypothesis", "halfway", and other polysylabic words with a leading H is nearly ubiquitous around here in Missouri. (Not on monosylabic words, and it's not always fully consistent- "hair" always has the leading H pronounced, but "hairline" may lose it.) "A" or "an" seems to be fairly random, however, and may vary arbitrarily within a person.

When typing or writing, however, I use "a" rather than "an" because I know how it's supposed to be pronounced... I just sound like a midwestern redneck, that's all.
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Date:July 9th, 2005 12:26 am (UTC)
It does vary by region, yes, and also by time period. The first time I saw the usage of "an h..." was in the King James version of the Bible. I just assumed that was yet another archaic English thing, but then I eventually stumbled across a few modern books that did it too.
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Date:July 10th, 2005 02:54 am (UTC)
Oh, yes -- thank you!

"An historic" has been a pet peeve of mine since time immemorable. I gave up trying to figure it out a while ago. And, you know, I almost began to believe it was just me.

I think...yes, I think I shall sleep well tonight.

Thank you. :)

-- Iamba (excuse me for popping in! hello!)
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Date:July 10th, 2005 07:24 am (UTC)
Glad I could help. ]B=8)

I work as a page designer for a newspaper, and the job includes copy editing since the paper has no actual copy editors. So this is one that I occasionally run across at work. (Actually, it was noticing it in a photo, of all places, at work that finally made me snap.) But, yeah, it bugs me all out of proportion to its actual misuse.

Anyway, nice to have you stopping by the journal. Y'all come back now, y'hear?

(And how'd you stumble over this way, if you don't mind my asking? Dragon/otherkin circles? Nanowrimo? I get a number of FOAFs dropping by on occasion, but we don't seem to share any LJ friends in common!)
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Date:July 10th, 2005 04:20 pm (UTC)
I can empathize. For about two years, I was copyeditor of my old university's newspaper, and ran across this enough that I began launching into a rant every time it popped up. I never knew what to do with it. Though, y'know, I can't remember if I ever actually got around to looking the durned thing up in the AP stylebook.

(Hmmmm... Well, to be honest, I've been popping in and out for a little while now. I got here from Tomorrowlands; although, how I ever found my way *there*, I honestly can't remember. Probably surfed in through the dragon/theri/otherkin route. "Iamba: stalking Otherkin communities since 1998." ::ahem:: Tomorrowlands is a great site, btw. Sorry it's down. I'd love to read me some more TTU. :) )

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