Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sat Oct 4 22:26:40 UTC 2008

As near as I can tell -- although I'm beginning to doubt myself as a
continue my recitals, particularly with historian - I say

a hilarious anecdote
an historian
a universal joint

Where am I from?  and when?

At 10/4/2008 10:19 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>Leaving aside the case of "an hero", which as noted in the links may
>be infected with the French pox, and sticking to native words with
>initial h- in stressed syllables, I'm not entirely sure when the
>transition from "an hXXXX" to "a hXXXX" occurred, but:   Slightly
>less than 200 years ago, Jane Austen was still having her characters
>talk in informal conversation about "an hill", "an house", "an happy
>man", etc., all quite consistently (through _Persuasion_, completed
>in 1816).  I haven't done a systematic (or even unsystematic) search
>of indefinite article sandhi in the earlier 19th century, but it may
>also be worth noting that as late as 1843 John Stuart Mill was still
>referring to "an universal" (although of course this is not
>"naturally spoken" English).  I don't know when "an" began to be
>impossible before stressed /h/ and orthographic but non-phonological
>vowels like the "u" of "universal", but evidently a bit later in the
>19th c.

The American Dialect Society -

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