"An historic"

Continuing the discussion from Congress ends federal ban on medical marijuana:

It’s possible that he wrote that, but seems unlikely that he said that. In most forms of English, a can precede anything, but an cannot precede a consonant. Therefore “a historic,” “a 'istoric,” and “an 'istoric” are possible, but “an historic” would be an impossible form.

If we can spell possum without an initial O and Adrianople without an initial H why should we have a problem spelling 'istoric without an initial H for those who pronounce it without an initial H and with an initial H for those who pronounce it with one?

Maybe we ought to go through English with separate characters for Germanic words with definite Hs [for example house and hloaf], Latin ones with silent Hs in some dialects of late Latin [and French ones for similar reasons], and Greek ones with silent Hs, often dropped, afaik by classical Greek. …?


Or as a stop-gap:

’ for Greek

h for Latin and French

hh for Germanic

ch for other Germanic, such as in loch or enough or night

kh for Greek X, such as in Christian, and Slavic X

k for k

[quote]The problem is that the h is a bit of a wuss as a consonant. When it occurs in
an unaccented syllable and is followed by a vowel, it tends to soften to a vowel-like mushiness.[/quote]


I still haven’t figured out the whole accented/nonaccented thing, but I am trying to figure out how H could “soften to a vowel-like mushiness,” and especially when it is followed by vowels. Consider Y/Y, W/U, and proper J/I. These are usually consonants when they are followedc by vowels, and vowels when they aren’t followed by vowels. The transformation K->X->H under Grimm’s law does go farther word-initially, and before vowels, but it doesn’t usually go K->X->H->Nothing before vowels.

Haut, Heir, [not transcribable], Hurt, Hetful, Haulidai.

Histaurijan, Histaurikl, Histairikl, [not transcribable], [not transcribable].

No. Or yes, how much less is not at all less.

If it’s different for you, then spell it 'istorical, at least after an, and save us the trouble. And we should spell that other word 'erb. I trip over “an historical” the same way I trip over “waggon” and “baggage” and “gif” and other spellings which pose pronunciation problems.

It’s funny. Whenever I read “an historic” I imagine a cockney flower seller saying it “it’s an 'istoric day luv. Now nip off ta’th pub for a pint.” Whereas I pretty much refuse to say “an historic” because it’s offensive to hear and makes people call me a pretentious asshole.

Heh. I’ll use “an historic” (if I remember to) when writing, but as my normal speech resembles:

[quote=“LDoBe, post:5, topic:48509”]
"it’s an 'istoric day luv. Now nip off ta’th pub for a pint
[/quote] I drop letters like a hyperactive postman on unpaid overtime. So you’d be pretty close.

And while we’re on the a/an subject, it’s always “an pedant”. :wink:

1 Like

Goddammit this makes me absolutely furious! We should invade England and put a stop to this at once!


Must be the Cymric influence. An 'edent, a pid or an 'ound, etc.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed after 792 days. New replies are no longer allowed.