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Dette emne er markeret som "i hvile"—det seneste indlæg er mere end 90 dage gammel. Du kan vække emnet til live ved at poste et indlæg.
Please, somebody, find me an explanation!
So your question might be replaced by two questions:
- Why "an" before "hour" and not before "history"?
- Who decided it? Johnson?
Sounds like you're experiencing considerable dissonance about some (normal) differences between spoken and written language. The usual explanation concerns whether or not the "h" is aspirated.
Unlike most consonants, its pronunciation is variable. When I was a kid I wanted to invent another letter, which I thought looked cool and would make things more precise. But nobody listened to me. It didn't catch on.
As late as 1904, Henry James was writing "an hotel".
It probably developed from Norman French.
After all, if "h" is "almost a vowel" in many ways, then certainly "w" is nearly a vowel as well, right?
I'm going to go for an walk now...
Anyway, I wouldn't have thought "an history" was something American at all. Maybe it's for certain regions that don't aspirate the "h"? That is, if there are any regions where it's common to not do so.
It's quite likely to be a regional usage - ambushedbyasnail, where did you see it? What sort of academic writing? I haven't noticed it at all (but then, I don't do much academical reading).
I presume that at least some Americans write "an herb", dropping the h, where I would write and say "a Herb".
2) I've always found the American word "'erb" rather comical, as it usually sounds more like "urb". Do people called Herbert find they are called "urburt"?
1. Say "how". That's aspirated.
2. Then, hit your thumb with a hammer.
3. Say "ow". That's not aspirated.
If you like, you can skip step 2.
i.e. - Antony / Ant-hony
It sort of softens the 't'
You mean they aren't?
I listen to some people who seem to leave whole clumps of letters out of their speech, out of laziness, apparently, or unfamiliarity, perhaps. So your image makes some sense. Just today, I heard someone pronounce "nickname" almost as if it were spelled "nee-name." Too much trouble to put in the "k" sound? This was a person whose first language is (Latin American) Spanish. Else, it may have been a choice between the "k" and the "n," as some Romance languages don't have very many consonant clusters.
Also, on the topic of "carrying words as ordered assemblages of letters, and occasionally [finding] the load too onerous" - I can easily imagine people doing that when faced with my given name, which is five syllables long and 17 letters when written. They inevitably shorten it to one syllable and three letters, which causes me no end of irritation (so I ended up picking my own, preferred nickname, of course).
I do not remember not being able to read, and so I have this image, if you will, of all speech somehow being spelled out, often even as I am listening.
Oh! The pronunciation of "corollary" is an example of the difference varying stress makes. Neither the British nor the Americans seem to leave anything at all out, but the pronunciations, at least to me, are startlingly different. I can hardly imitate the British pronunciation, and am brought up short "translating" when I hear it. "Laboratory" not so much.
One Americanism that annoys me - because the Brits are slavishly adopting it - is 'research'.
Increasingly we hear 'REsearch', when English English always used to say 'reSEARCH'. The American pronunciation goes severely against the grain: in Italian it's 'riCERca' and in French 'la reCHERche'. Why this word for special treatment? I never hear 'REpeat', or 'REtire' (unless the latter is where English English says 'Re-tyre'!
I notice that histoire is of Latin origin, *haricot of Frankish (Germanic) origin. The great majority of French words with an aspirate h are indeed of Frankish, Germanic, English, etc. origin. (But it seems to me that there are also many exceptions...)
So I'm just wondering if this doesn't simply apply also to English, where your Saxon, Norsk and Scandinavian words would get an aspirate h and the other words not.
By the way, I think that things have changed now in France and that it is tolerated to say "des z-aricots". But "des aricots" with no liaison is much posher and more stylish.
- herbe is of Latin origin, so l'herbe (silent)
- hache (just as halle) is of Frankish origin, so la hache, la halle (aspirated).
Of course, you have to be quick enough to guess the origin...
And, as I said, there seem to be quite a number of exceptions.
Yes, but that stress alternation does fit in with an English-internal pattern, where verbs and nouns that have the same base form differ in where the stress lies:
a REcord -- To reCORD
an ADdress -- to adDRESS
a PRESent -- to preSENT
a SUSpect -- to susPECT
There's heaps of examples like that. Of course, many others, like a/to reward still have the same stress pattern for both noun and verb. But the pair a reSEARCH - to reSEARCH shifting its pronunciation to become, well, more regular, if you like, in some way, doesn't really bother me. (For the record, I say reSEARCH in both cases.)