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Pronounciation and Grammar

Delicious SteveDelicious Steve Registered User regular
edited March 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
Something's been on the back of my mind for a while now, I'll just say the questions and simply as possible
  1. Is the word HERB pronounced with a silent H?
  2. If the word HERB does have a silent H would you use AN or A preceeding it in a statement?

Because if the H is silent, then there is a disparity between the written and spoken grammar, AN preceeds a noun that begins with a Vowel, A preceeds a noun that begins with a Consonant, it's spoken one way and written another.

Just asking because I've learnt it one way, but sometimes I'll notice someone write "an herb" and my brain begins to melt, but then i remember some people say the word with a silent H, which would make sense, if i knew how to pronounce it right.

Delicious Steve on
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Posts

  • yalborapyalborap Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I always pronounce it with a silent H, and thus write 'an herb'.

    However, I could be doing it wrong.

    yalborap on
  • DeswaDeswa Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    According to dictionary.com
    Pronunciation:
    \ˈərb, US also & British usually ˈhərb\

    So both are acceptable I guess, more so depending on where you live.

    If you go with "erb" it'd be "an herb", just like "an hour."

    Deswa on
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  • FletcherFletcher Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Personally I think both "an herb" and "an erb" sound awful when you say them, it doesn't seem to flow right

    I always pronounce the H and so does everyone else I've heard say it in New Zealand and England, but in my experience US citizens choose not to for some reason.

    I believe you are supposed to use "an" for both (and I have written it that way in the past), but it sounds so halting and forced that I just can't bring myself to say it that way out loud.

    Fletcher on
  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2009
    US it's an herb, UK (the proper way) it's a herb (Because we pronounce the H like civilised people).

    Don't even get me started on Oregano.

    Szechuanosaurus on
  • AwkAwk Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Celica?

    Decal?

    Awk on
  • yurnamehereyurnamehere Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I believe technically you're supposed to use "an" for any word starting with H, whether it's silent or not. That's why you hear the phrase "an historic moment" so often. Some people make the H silent in cases like that, even when they otherwise wouldn't.

    I think that sounds dumb, and use "a" when the H is not silent. I'm a rebel.

    As to the original question, the "erb/herb" distinction is entirely regional.

    To (mostly faithfully) quote Eddie Izzard, "Americans say 'erb.' In England we say 'herb' because there's a fucking H in it."

    yurnamehere on
  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2009
    I think yurnamehere is actually possibly more correct than I am.

    Szechuanosaurus on
  • FatsFats Corvallis, ORRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Don't you drop the H in "herba"?
    (Because we pronounce the H like civilised people).

    I expect you to start pronouncing the H in all words. Starting this hour, be honest about it.

    Fats on
  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2009
    Fats wrote: »
    Don't you drop the H in "herba"?
    (Because we pronounce the H like civilised people).

    I expect you to start pronouncing the H in all words. Starting this hour, be honest about it.

    You see, you think you're being clever there but I already do pronounce those Hs. Hell, I pronounce Hs in words that don't even have them.

    Civility can be measured by the amount of Hs a man can fit into a conversation.

    Who is the classiest dude in Star Wars? Darth Vader. I rest my case.

    Szechuanosaurus on
  • RUNN1NGMANRUNN1NGMAN Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    According to my dictionary, the British didn't pronounce the H either until sometime in the 19th century, when they got a stick shoved up their ass.

    RUNN1NGMAN on
  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    'H's are odd in British English. Working class people often drop them, and so there are a few words (e.g. the letter itself 'haitch') where they have added them out of some kind of idea that 'you should pronounce the Hs to be proper'. These changes get calcified and codified and are now considered 'correct' by many people.

    American English I don't know that well, though I know Americans usually drop the H in herbs and herbal etc.

    Generally people choose the article (a/an) which matches their pronunciation. For me (a professional in linguistics/English teacher training) it's a hint as to where they're from.

    poshniallo on
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  • deadlyrhetoricdeadlyrhetoric "We could be two straight lines in a crooked world."__BANNED USERS regular
    edited March 2009
    I say 'an erb' when talking about herbs.

    I say 'a herb' when talking about herbs.

    One is plants. The other is losers.

    deadlyrhetoric on
  • WillethWilleth Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I believe technically you're supposed to use "an" for any word starting with H, whether it's silent or not. That's why you hear the phrase "an historic moment" so often. Some people make the H silent in cases like that, even when they otherwise wouldn't.

    I think that sounds dumb, and use "a" when the H is not silent. I'm a rebel.

    As to the original question, the "erb/herb" distinction is entirely regional.

    To (mostly faithfully) quote Eddie Izzard, "Americans say 'erb.' In England we say 'herb' because there's a fucking H in it."

    I was always taught that 'an hotel' is correct. Took me ages to figure out why.

    Also, for the sake of it, it's spelled (and spoken) "Pronunciation".

    Willeth on
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  • EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Herb with the H pronounced is the name. It's silent if you're talking about the seasonings.

    You're also thinking about it too much in what's written on the page. "an herb" sounds a lot better than "a erb"

    If you say "an istoric event," that's different from "a historic event." You also say "I read for an 'our a day." Just like there's "an 'onest man"

    It's not a disparity, it's simply a reflection that english is a spoken language.

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  • KalTorakKalTorak One way or another, they all end up in the Undercity.Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    "An historic day" always bugs me, because it's a hard "H" sound, not a soft one. "An" is for vowels and vowel sounds, like soft "H" sounds - "an honest man," "an hour later," etc. Why use "an" in front of a hard "H" sound? "He was an hero." "It's an hard life."

    Ridiculous.

    KalTorak on
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Depending on your dialect, either or. Americans pronounce it without the H.

    I also wouldn't trust a British person to tell me they pronounce it a certain way because the letter is present. Ever.

    bowen on
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  • PeregrineFalconPeregrineFalcon Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    bowen wrote: »
    Depending on your dialect, either or. Americans pronounce it without the H.

    I also wouldn't trust a British person to tell me they pronounce it a certain way because the letter is present. Ever.

    Now now, you're just letting your prejudices discolour things. :P

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  • yurnamehereyurnamehere Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    KalTorak wrote: »
    "An historic day" always bugs me, because it's a hard "H" sound, not a soft one. "An" is for vowels and vowel sounds, like soft "H" sounds - "an honest man," "an hour later," etc. Why use "an" in front of a hard "H" sound? "He was an hero." "It's an hard life."

    Ridiculous.

    Even when you're trying to pronounce the hard H after "an" it's hard to make it really stand out, which is probably where the practice of "dropping" initial H's came from.

    yurnamehere on
  • deadlyrhetoricdeadlyrhetoric "We could be two straight lines in a crooked world."__BANNED USERS regular
    edited March 2009
    'ELLO GUV'NA!

    deadlyrhetoric on
  • EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Right, if you pronounce "historic" with the H, then you use "a historic." Off the top of my head the only common H word that always has a hard H, even when preceded with an "a," is "ham."

    The use of a/an is pretty similar, in my opinion, to the dropping of consonant sounds in french words when the next word begins with a consonant -- it sounds more flowing. Same with the dropping of vowels when the next word begins with a vowel, like "l'enfant." They don't say "le enfant" because it sounds awkward.

    But you'll note that every definition of "an" says "before a vowel or an unvoiced H." Do you voice the H? If so, you wouldn't use "an." There's no rule there -- if you voice the H, use "a."

    This trick is also used by writers to tell readers how they intend words to be pronounced. Someone saying "give her an 'hello' for me" intends it to be pronounced "'ello." That's all. It's not very complicated. Unless you're trying to maneouvre some weird british intention out of it, but maneouvreability and british pronunciation/spelling don't necessarily coincide ;D

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  • WillethWilleth Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    It's much more common now to actually drop the H in text and replace it with an apostrophe if that's the effect you're going for, HeggyToast. :D

    Willeth on
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  • LewieP's MummyLewieP's Mummy Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Oh, where do I start?

    Or should I even try?
    US it's an herb, UK (the proper way) it's a herb (Because we pronounce the H like civilised people).

    Don't even get me started on Oregano.

    They say Isaiah wrong, too. D:

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  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Eye-zay-uh ?

    bowen on
    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • LerageLerage Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Willeth wrote: »
    I believe technically you're supposed to use "an" for any word starting with H, whether it's silent or not. That's why you hear the phrase "an historic moment" so often. Some people make the H silent in cases like that, even when they otherwise wouldn't.

    I think that sounds dumb, and use "a" when the H is not silent. I'm a rebel.

    As to the original question, the "erb/herb" distinction is entirely regional.

    To (mostly faithfully) quote Eddie Izzard, "Americans say 'erb.' In England we say 'herb' because there's a fucking H in it."

    I was always taught that 'an hotel' is correct. Took me ages to figure out why.

    Also, for the sake of it, it's spelled (and spoken) "Pronunciation".

    Please explain to me why it's "an hotel". Even looking at that makes me boil with rage!...well, slightly. It just looks/sounds so wrong!

    Lerage on
  • EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Willeth wrote: »
    It's much more common now to actually drop the H in text and replace it with an apostrophe if that's the effect you're going for, HeggyToast. :D

    Just because it's more common now doesn't mean it doesn't happen. I've seen many writers write "an historic" as well as "a historic." It simply tells you how they themselves pronounce the world.

    Unless they have an editor that forces them to do it one way or another.

    Although I believe we may be getting into the historical attributes of british/american english, which has had a large amount of material written on each, and is also more a d&d topic ;D

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  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    The a/an rule is based entirely around the opening sound of the following word; if it's a vowel sound (regardless of whether or not the word begins with a vowel) you use "an." If it's a consonant sound, you use "a." So, unless you have a ridiculously thick cockney accent, "an historic" is possibly the most retarded linguistic construct ever. Same with "an hotel." "Herb" is, in fact, pronounced as "erb" in the U.S., so uses "an." It tends to be pronounced with a hard "h" in more British countries (as in "her"), so uses "a."

    But if we were talking about games, it would be "an RPG," even though "R" is a consonant (since when you say it, it's "an arr-pee-gee").

    Thanatos on
  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Than is right - that's what I was trying to say.

    Also, plenty of super-posh academic types say 'an 'istoric occasion' and 'an 'otel'.

    They just say it poshly.

    poshniallo on
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  • KalkinoKalkino Buttons Londres Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    The H in my opinion should be pronounced. This is based on accepted rules I was examined upon when sitting speech examinations back in the day (Trinity House of London/New Zealand Speech Board, so two different organisations that have speech assessment systems and from two different countries with distinct accents).

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  • TobyToby Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    It's a stress thing. 'An historic' and 'an hotel' exist because in each, the first syllable isn't stressed, which (in many dialects but not all) means you can elide the H. Once you've done that, the next sound is a vowel, so English puts an /n/ sound in between to make it easier to pronounce.

    You can't have 'an ham' because, being a one-syllable word, 'ham' is stressed and therefore the H must be pronounced.

    'Herb' is a separate issue, since for most North Americans there just isn't an H sound at all - same for 'hour' and 'honesty' and probably a few more.

    Toby on
  • LewieP's MummyLewieP's Mummy Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    bowen wrote: »
    Eye-zay-uh ?

    Noooooooooooooo!

    Eye-z-eye-ah!

    LewieP's Mummy on
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  • Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    So...what about "ho"?

    As in: "I gave brother $5 and told him to buy himself a/an ho."

    Inquisitor77 on
  • proXimityproXimity Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    It would be "a" because you pronounce the h in "ho". Duh.

    proXimity on
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  • Dulcius_ex_asperisDulcius_ex_asperis Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I have always said "an herb" because of not pronouncing the h...
    bowen wrote: »
    Eye-zay-uh ?

    Brits say "EyeZ-eye-uh"

    edit: beat.

    Dulcius_ex_asperis on
  • CervetusCervetus Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Whenever I hear someone say "An historic" with a pronounced "h" I think, "There's a pretentious moron."

    Cervetus on
  • LerageLerage Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I pronounce the H is historic because I pronounce the H in history. Now that I think about it, newsreaders always pronounce the H.

    Lerage on
  • TamTam Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    bowen wrote: »
    Eye-zay-uh ?

    Noooooooooooooo!

    Eye-z-eye-ah!

    Can you explain something, Mrs. P (or any British folk for that matter)? Where does zed come from? All the other letters, right, you've got, at most, two different sounds at play. Ay, Bee, See, Dee, Ee, Eff, Jee, Aych, Eye, Jay, Kay, El, Em, En, Oh, Pee, Que, Arr, Ess, you see where I'm going with this, why is there a 'd' on the end of the pronunciation of 'z'?

    Tam on
  • JohnDoeJohnDoe Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I believe technically you're supposed to use "an" for any word starting with H, whether it's silent or not. That's why you hear the phrase "an historic moment" so often. Some people make the H silent in cases like that, even when they otherwise wouldn't.

    I'm pretty sure "An historic" is incorrect grammar.

    JohnDoe on
  • W2W2 Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Tam wrote: »
    bowen wrote: »
    Eye-zay-uh ?

    Noooooooooooooo!

    Eye-z-eye-ah!

    Can you explain something, Mrs. P (or any British folk for that matter)? Where does zed come from? All the other letters, right, you've got, at most, two different sounds at play. Ay, Bee, See, Dee, Ee, Eff, Jee, Aych, Eye, Jay, Kay, El, Em, En, Oh, Pee, Que, Arr, Ess, you see where I'm going with this, why is there a 'd' on the end of the pronunciation of 'z'?

    I believe it's because the letter Z is derived from the Greek "zeta"

    W2 on
  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2009
    Thanatos wrote: »
    But if we were talking about games, it would be "an RPG," even though "R" is a consonant (since when you say it, it's "an arr-pee-gee").

    There's a thread in SE++ about mini laptops, people keep writing an EEEPC and I'm like 'whut?'

    I pronounce it triple-e pee-cee but I guess other people pronounce it eee-eee-eee-pee-cee

    Szechuanosaurus on
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