"An" before "h"

Subject: "An" before "h"
From: Mark Levinson <mark -at- SD -dot- CO -dot- IL>
Date: Sun, 15 Jan 1995 11:31:43 IST

At the risk of sounding like the ex-historian of the House of
Representatives, I think someone should present the point of view--
however unpopular-- that favors such phrases as "an historic

The idea is that even when the "h" is theoretically pronounced,
if the initial syllable is not accented the "h" is so nearly
nonexistent that an "an" is appropriate.

The people who write "an historic occasion" would never write
"an history book," because there the "h" is on an accented
syllable. However, they would write "an hysterical reaction"
and "an horrific scene."

I can understand the practice, though I don't follow it myself
and I find it distracting when I see it.

||- Mark L. Levinson, mark -at- sd -dot- co -dot- il -- Box 5780, 46157 Herzlia, Israel -||
|| - Death to fanatics! - ||

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