[Ads-l] ***UNCHECKED*** Re: Articles and letters of the alphabet

Barretts Mail mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM
Sat Feb 13 20:53:24 EST 2021


If sentence 6 is acceptable to some people, I’m inclined to call it a proper noun in line with 2. BB

> On 13 Feb 2021, at 09:22, Dennis During <dcduring at gmail.com> wrote:
> 
> In my reading of your example, I wanted "B" to be uncountable.
> 
> "X has Y in it" typically has "Y" uncountable and therefore has the null
> determiner. Eg, "That bread has gluten in it."
> 
> On Sat, Feb 13, 2021 at 11:40 AM Barretts Mail <mail.barretts at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> 
>> The letter “U” starts with a /j/ sound, so “a” is preferred.
>> 
>> The ambiguity for a/an before some letters is, what seems to me, the
>> rising acceptability of “a” before vowel sounds.
>> 
>> As for “an B”, sorry, that should have been “a B”. I changed the letter at
>> the last minute for consistency and failed to catch that. The inconsistency
>> I’m wondering about is why “It starts with B” is fine but “It has B” is not
>> or at least less acceptable.
>> 
>> BB
>> 
>>> On 13 Feb 2021, at 05:54, Andy Bach <afbach at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
>>> 
>>> 3. It starts/ends with a “B.”
>>> 4. It starts/ends with “B.”
>>>> For me, at least, the article is obligatory when describing letters in
>>> other word positions:
>>> 5. “Build” has an “B” in it.
>>> ??6. “Build” has “B” in it.
>>>> 4 and 6 seem inconsistent.
>>> 
>>> Not sure this is of any use; for me, born and raised in the midwest,
>>> they're a lot less jarring.  Maybe a generic vs specific sense, e.g.
>>> The words on this list start with "B", for instance, "Bird" which starts
>>> with a "B"
>>> Now find words with "U" in them, for instance, "Build" has a "U" in it.
>>> 
>>> One that was jarring was #5 "... an B"  sounded wrong. "An A" and going
>>> through the alphabet, I, and H took "an" naturally. I got to LMN and
>> found
>>> I could go either way, as could "X" - "an" or "a". Funny was "an U" was
>> the
>>> one vowel that sounded wrong.
>>> 
>>> On Fri, Feb 12, 2021 at 11:37 AM Barretts Mail <mail.barretts at gmail.com>
>>> wrote:
>>> 
>>>> Generally, it seems that articles are optional for single letters of the
>>>> alphabet:
>>>> 
>>>> 1. This is a “B.”
>>>> 2. This is “B.”
>>>> 
>>>> Number 1 seems to be talking about the letter, and number 2 seems to be
>>>> pedagogical. For number 2, then, perhaps the article is skipped because
>> “B”
>>>> is treated as a proper noun.
>>>> 
>>>> As for spelling:
>>>> 
>>>> 3. It starts/ends with a “B.”
>>>> 4. It starts/ends with “B.”
>>>> 
>>>> These seem nearly equivalent, but 3 feels more prescriptively correct.
>>>> 
>>>> For me, at least, the article is obligatory when describing letters in
>>>> other word positions:
>>>> 
>>>> 5. “Build” has an “B” in it.
>>>> ??6. “Build” has “B” in it.
>>>> 
>>>> 4 and 6 seem inconsistent. Is there a way to explain this?
>>>> 
>>>> Benjamin Barrett (he/his/him)
>>>> Formerly of Seattle, WA
>>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> --
>>> 
>>> a
>>> 
>>> Andy Bach,
>>> afbach at gmail.com
>>> 608 658-1890 cell
>>> 608 261-5738 wk
>>> 
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>> 
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>> 
> 
> 
> -- 
> Dennis C. During
> 
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


More information about the Ads-l mailing list