usage ridicule

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Tue Mar 27 07:51:14 UTC 2012

I had the same impression about US vs. UK usage. I was shocked when I found myself saying "an historical" perhaps in my thirties. I'm still not 100% sure, but I think "an" reduces to "a" in stressed contexts in my speech.

Benjamin Barrett
Seattle, WA

On Mar 26, 2012, at 9:57 PM, W Brewer wrote:

> RE:  an historic  vs.  a historic.     When I was a student, I mulled this
> problem. The convention of the time seemed to have been:  Americans must
> write <a historical>. My impression was that British wrote <an historical>.
> Pronunciation-wise, I was unhappy with either [uh historical] or [ay
> historical], and affected [Anne historical], for which I got negative vibes
> at UC Berkeley. (There was also my malaise at the co-existence of
> <ahistorical> in the midst of all this.) My problem with [uh h-] and [ay
> h-] and affinity for [Anne h-] I think has to do with the fact that [h-] is
> merely a voiceless anticipation of the following [small-cap eye] (as Ohala
> later taught me), and my articulators tend to precede it with the
> prescribed pre-vocalic <an>. And so, as Anne Elephant once famously said,
> this is my hypothesis, it belongs to me, and is mine.

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