"A hereditary" or "an hereditary"

Mike Salovesh t20mxs1 at CORN.CSO.NIU.EDU
Tue May 4 03:36:10 UTC 1999

Grant Barrett declared

> >Personally, when speaking, I never use "an" in front of hereditary,
> >history, etc. It rings false to my ears, though I will use it in print in
> >order not to arouse prescriptivist instincts in editors and professors.
> >
Pafra & Scott Catledge responded:

> Dear Grant--Would you also say "a herb? ;{)

I dunno about Grant, but I  wouldn't mind asking for a herb salad. . .
i.e., a salad with herb sauce or with  a plentiful addition of mixed
herbs. I can't imagine saying "an herb salad" unless imitating someone

Note that I simply ignored the possible choice between "a herb sauce"
and "an herb sauce".

There's only one context in which I would feel comfortable saying
something that would sound like "an herb": in reference to the official
Latin motto of the City of Chicago, "the city in a garden".  I can
imagine saying that such-and-such is an urbs in horto kind of
expression. . .  but I'd expect it to make sense only to another
Chicagoan of a certain age.

That's a Chicago thing, with a historical precedent.  I might even point
out that it's a hereditary trait, since my father also was a native

I remember Raven McDavid saying that any Chicagoan who regularly said
"an historical" or "an hereditary" would be an horse's ass.
--  mike salovesh             <salovesh at niu.edu>        PEACE !!!

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