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Has the use of 'an' gone out of fashion? Options
Tovarish
Posted: Monday, February 6, 2012 11:13:00 PM
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I have noticed in the many books I read, that the normal usage of 'an' is not being used.

Anyone else noticed this?
GeorgeV
Posted: Monday, February 6, 2012 11:17:42 PM
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Not in the books I read.
srirr
Posted: Monday, February 6, 2012 11:25:34 PM

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No Tovarish; not atleast in the books I read or publish. I work in publishing industry and I can say "an" is not gone. Perhaps you are reading a book with some special presentation style. But when you mention "many books", I can't say on that.

P.S.: Tov, nice to see you. While watching the cricket matches between India and Australia, I was always thinking of you and your well-being.
Shivanand
Posted: Monday, February 6, 2012 11:36:50 PM
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Even I have not felt that an has gone out of use.
@srirr, how did you see Tov during the Aus-Ind cricket match? Hope you are not advertising for Beta TV!!!
Cheers!
Tovarish
Posted: Monday, February 6, 2012 11:53:03 PM
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That was me waving in the crowd Srirr !!!

I have so enjoyed the cricket so far. It is wonderful to see the younger players coming into the game.

That the crowds have been excellant in all codes is great.

The 'Swahmi Army' has been having a fun time too, started by a young Sydney banker to support the Indian team.

Best use the word "an" so we dont get roused on for post jacking, "Both teams stayed in an hotel near the grounds!!!!!"

Romany
Posted: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 12:30:12 AM
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Ah Tove - now I see what you're getting at! You mean using "an" in front of the letter 'h'?

Yes, it clung on till long after its use-by date, didn't it? Those pesky Normans and their French interceptions in OUR language!

However, it seems by now that most people have given up on treating h like a vowel and I actually get raised eye-brows from my American collegues...although as they STILL continue to treat the h in 'herbs' as a French construct it would have seemed more logical to me had they continued with the 'an' thing. Crazy bloody language!
Shivanand
Posted: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 12:52:18 AM
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@Romany, I always, and even now think that H can never be a vowel! I am under the impression that since in most of the usages, h becomes silent like in hour, honour,etc.which is why an is prefixed instead of a! Similarly, u though is a vowel, since its pronounciationsn is y, some times,a is used instead of an(like in university) Is my understanding correct?
Klaas V
Posted: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 1:19:04 AM

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Some people use an article in front of a proper name e,g. an Yvette, so you see that the y can be a vowel as well.
srirr
Posted: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 2:37:28 AM

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I reckon that "an" is used with vowel sounds, not necessarily vowels, like in the examples by Shivanand. To add further, when acronyms/abbreviations with a vowel sound in the beginning (but with consonant letter) are considered, we may use vowels.

A frequently asked question but an FAQ
An LAPD officer
A LAN connection but an LOC martyr

FAQ, LAPD, LOC are read with eff, ell, ell sounds respectively. They are not read as single word, while LAN is read as single word.
pedro
Posted: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 4:40:11 AM
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an hour, an historical moment, an horse, an Hathaway
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 4:58:15 AM

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Pedro!! Now you are being silly - you spelled 'an' wrong in the last example.

Of course, as I was not properly brung up, I would say 'an hour, a historical moment, a horse, a herb, an honour, a hatchet. Totally logical - the rule is:
"The letter 'H' is pronounced when it is right to pronounce it, and is not pronounced when it's wrong." You can't argue with that one! Dancing

Don't mention the cricket - those colonials will get all uppity! Shhh
Tovarish
Posted: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 5:33:45 AM
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An 'otel is still my favourite!

Me too Romany, 'erb sounds funny, but I got the Anne Hathaway joke Pedro.

No we dont get all uppity over cricket, well I dont anyway, still enjoyed it when the Kiwis beat us, but they are

Cononials too so I suppose that doesnt count, Aussies 0, Kiwis 1 and the wicket got a 2, such fun to see the

creative bowling, and the batsmaen all miffed.
songbird6
Posted: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 8:20:46 AM
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I have noticed in the many books I read, that the normal usage of 'an' is not being used.

Perhaps it would help if you can give an example of where you observed this.

"An" is an indefinite article used before a vowel or "h."

We should get an opportunity to go later in the week.
Let's go to a movie tonight or take an opportunity to relax at home.
It was an historic victory.











Rhondish
Posted: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 9:49:01 AM
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I cannot say I see it in books, but I definately hear it in conversation, though one would think it would be a natural transition. I have to say I am getting a bit frustrated with how lazy we have become. When did the 't' in often change from being silent? When did it become acceptable to use ain't and irreguarless? When did we begin to embrace phrases such as "Where you at?". My 17 year old nephew cannot read my cursive. When did we stop teaching penmanship? Is this going the way of the dodo with Phonics? Sorry, I am taking this opportunity to vent.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 1:09:51 PM

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Hi songbird!:
Quote:
"An" is an indefinite article used before a vowel or "h."


I think you should add the word 'silent' before "h".

I am sure you don't say "an head" or "an hoe" or "an hog" - unless the dialect you use drops all "h"s (an 'ead, an 'oe, an 'og)! Whistle
jam_loss
Posted: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 1:14:11 PM
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Being an honorable man, I will say nothing more on this matter.
nowherenothere
Posted: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 3:16:30 PM
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When an if is the context, then yes, since and if or if are often used instead.

Tovarish wrote:
I have noticed in the many books I read, that the normal usage of 'an' is not being used.

Anyone else noticed this?
almostfreebird
Posted: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 12:10:06 AM
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Tovarish
Posted: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 3:29:11 AM
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The last book I noticed it in was 'The Isle of Dogs' by Praticia Cornwell, cant tell you the page No, and dont understand the humour ether,

either, neighter, nore.

Oh well must go and feed an 'orse!
Epiphileon
Posted: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 5:40:49 AM

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Tov, I have not noticed any decline in the use of "an", in anything I've been reading, neither in traditional print, nor on-line.
From one who has never given grammar much serious attention, (probably a result of having to diagram sentences endlessly for penguin imitating, ruler wielding, religious women, grade school teachers), I was surprised to find that I had been following all of the guidelines I read in this post. I found it interesting that there is a grammar rule based on phonemes rather than just strictly structure, and will probably always use "an" before a word starting with a silent "h". I tried it the other way and it just feels awkward.
Tovarish
Posted: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 6:50:07 AM
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Epi, if it feels awkward then just dont do it!
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 2:24:05 PM

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Quote from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary:

Some speakers do not pronounce the ‘h’ at the beginning of historic and use ‘an’ instead of ‘a’ before it. This now sounds old-fashioned.
FounDit
Posted: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 2:39:27 PM

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The first time I ate an herb was at a hotel. It was a historic event.

Sounds perfectly natural to me.




Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 2:44:33 PM

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"The first time I ate (et) a herb was at a hotel. It was a historic event."

Vive la difference!!
Briton
Posted: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 6:24:59 PM
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On reflection, I realised that I vary between a and an.

"The first time I ate(et) a herb was at a hotel. It was an historic event."

"The first time I ate(et) a herb was at an hotel. It was an historic event."

I find "a historic" difficult and unnatural to say, possibly because of the way I pronounce my a's.

I would never say "an 'erb".

It would seem we all have different haspirations Whistle

Each to his own!
Hope1
Posted: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 8:23:28 PM
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An (h)erb is what you eat. Herb is a man.
Tovarish
Posted: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 9:50:39 PM
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I will have to note this, now shown the error of my ways, I will now refer to all my little Her-berts growing in my kitchen 'erb garden.
Klaas V
Posted: Thursday, February 9, 2012 12:04:30 AM

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Hope1 wrote:
An (h)erb is what you eat. Herb is a man.


Or a restaurant and even a

[image not available]
Volkswagen beetle
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Thursday, February 9, 2012 1:30:00 AM

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Hope1 wrote:
Quote:
An (h)erb is what you eat. Herb is a man.


Basil is a man - Rosemary is a woman!

Epiphilion reminded me yesterday of the main thing that influences my pronunciation of "h" - when I was young I would have been 'reprimanded with a ruler' by Sister Redempter or Mother Marietta if I had been heard saying "an 'orse, an 'erb, an 'istoric occasion" - "There's an 'H' on that word!!" - whack! d'oh! d'oh!
rogermue
Posted: Thursday, February 9, 2012 1:46:12 AM

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Dropping 'eitches' (h's) is a widespread feature of substandard speech in Great Britain as the film My Fair Lady with Audrey Hepburn as Eliza convincingly shows. Is there any information on the web how this feature is spread over the whole of Great Britain?

On the web there are various linguistic atlases for the German language and I have a small one in book form (very interesting).
But I don't know of any linguistic atlases for English.
Tovarish
Posted: Thursday, February 9, 2012 6:04:37 AM
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I think we Colonials printed our own!
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Thursday, February 9, 2012 7:38:52 AM

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I think the 'colonials' printed their own dictionary - the Americans did anyway. I have seen a book called something like "How to talk Straine" but that's more of a joke, I think. I'm sure even the Australians couldn't speak that badly (*cough*).

Seriously though, I think a linguistic atlas of the UK would be impossible - you could split UK into Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Northern England and Southern England, but even that wouldn't fly. There are many areas of England where the language changes so as to be unintelligible within 40 miles - especially in the North East (Geordieland) and the South West (Devon/Cornwall).
The Cockney (central London) dialect is famous for dropping aitches (like Eliza Dolittle), but it is also a common trait of all the city accents (Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle), and the South West.
almostfreebird
Posted: Thursday, February 9, 2012 7:48:59 AM
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There are lots of websites dealing with "a versus an".

Grammar Girl says

While we’re talking about different pronunciations, let’s talk about a historic. Some Americans argue that it should be an historic, but I come down firmly on the side that says it should be a historic event. One of the most contentious interactions I had at a book signing was over this point.

Here’s my reasoning: If you have an odd accent for an American and pronounce historic as “istoric,” you can make an argument for writing an historic, but it’s a stretch since the standard American pronunciation of historic is with the h-sound: “historic.” So even if you pronounce it “istoric,” most of your readers won’t.


Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Thursday, February 9, 2012 7:59:09 AM

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I can think only few words definitely starting with silent H:

an hour
an honest man
an honour

not sure about these, but would myself use a and voice the H:

a heir
a herb

H definitely pronounced:

a hill
a house
a history book
a happy man
a hangover...

All this reminds me of René in Allo Allo ("I 'av to be nice...")

FounDit
Posted: Thursday, February 9, 2012 3:45:05 PM

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@ Drag0nspeaker

Shame on you No, no, no...the hotel sentence was for example only!...Anxious


ETA: Wonder how I grew up in the South of the U.S. and learned to drop the "H" on heir and herb? Is that a Southern thing 'cause I've never heard anyone use it on those words.

It must be the rest of y'all are all wrong...yep...think that's it.
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