Split: An vs A - And America vs the World

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Mitra
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Split: An vs A - And America vs the World

Post by Mitra » 24 Dec 2008, 18:38

all I got from that first link is that i still don't think that "an" should be allowed to proceed a word that starts with "h"
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Re: RIAA related stuff. Copyright/IP shenanigans.

Post by Cartollomew » 24 Dec 2008, 20:13

Mitra wrote:all I got from that first link is that i still don't think that "an" should be allowed to proceed a word that starts with "h"


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Re: RIAA related stuff. Copyright/IP shenanigans.

Post by Johnnyrico » 07 Jan 2009, 13:22

Mitra wrote:all I got from that first link is that i still don't think that "an" should be allowed to proceed a word that starts with "h"


Its an english thing :b
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Philondra
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Re: RIAA related stuff. Copyright/IP shenanigans.

Post by Philondra » 07 Jan 2009, 14:11

Some Americans do it too, and it annoys me. I know the rationale for it, but I personally don't like it.

The rationale goes like this: in words where that begin with a non-silent "H", either "an" or "a" is allowed, as "H" is not a strong consonant, and using "a" instead of "an" forces the reader to introduce a glottal stop* in between the indefinite article and the noun, which is somewhat awkward when read out loud, as English is a language that only rarely uses glottal stops in normal speech.

However, Japanese uses both glottal stops and vowel elongations frequently, so I have no problem with the weak glottal stop introduced by "a hotel" or "a historic occasion"; however, most formal speeches by important people will use "an hotel" or "an historic occasion", as they are easier for English speakers to pronounce without coming across as awkward.

* A glottal stop is basically a "cutting off" of a sound, forcing a brief pause on the part of the speaker -- in English, the most common usage is probably the phrase "uh-oh!"

So when translating, I use this general guide:

** If the document will be read outloud in front of lots of people, I use "an historic occasion"
** In all ohter times, I use "a historic occasion"

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Re: RIAA related stuff. Copyright/IP shenanigans.

Post by Cartollomew » 07 Jan 2009, 14:17

Edit: I see Phil beat me to it, and disagrees.
Frankly, I find saying both "an historic" and "a historic" to be clumsy - but prefer the latter. YMMV.
Plus, it won't prevent me posting the rant below.

Johnnyrico wrote:
Mitra wrote:all I got from that first link is that i still don't think that "an" should be allowed to proceed a word that starts with "h"


Its an english thing :b


You only bait me because you know I'm a sucker for this kind of discussion.

This is another one of those cases where "if you apply common-sense and the rule seems utterly stupid, then the rule is utterly stupid".

"An historic" is dumb. Say it out loud. Did you pronounce the "h"? It sounded dumb, didn't it?
(if you didn't pronounce the "h", then get back to shovelling coal, cobber - if the guv'ner catches you slackin' orf, 'e'll give you a roight 'idin', 'e will!)

Linguistically, it's clumsy as fuck to say, for example "a ermine", or "a anvil". If you left off the vowel sounds and (for some bizzarre reason) pronounced those words using their consonant first, you'd be well within your rights to say "a mine" or "a nvil" (okay, "nvil" is pretty fucking clumsy all by itself, but it's your own damn fault for pronouncing it without a vowel at the front. What the hell is wrong with you?).

Similarly, if you're the kind of person who wanders around saying "Oh my! What an 'istoric event! I'm in 'isterics! We've resurrected 'itler!", then by all means, go ahead and write an "an" in front of those words.

But if you claim the right to do that, you mispronouncing prick, you can damn well write the words phonetically too. Oh, what's that? It's fucking stupid thing to do? Well, how about that... so it is.

If thomeone hath a lithp, they don't go around thpelling all their wordth like thith.

There are two exceptions I can think of:
1) You're writing in character - it's perfectly acceptable to have your Scottish character saying:
MacGillicuddy MacFadden wrote:Ach! Yeh canny get oop and doon wi'aight a trachtor - bet lookily ay hae a trachtor! It's ainly a wee oon...

...but at the same time, the Right Hon. MacFadden himself would be well advised to fill out his tractor documents using the correct spelling and punctuation.

2) Herb.
Fuck you, Americans. Seriously.
I'm not kidding, they go around pronouncing it "erb". Nobody else does this. Why the hell?

Anyways, whatever. The rule of selecting language based on intended audience comes into play - your average Yank is going to read "herb" without the "h", so if you're writing for Americans, talking about how you "purchased an herbal remedy" is probably advisable.
If you are writing for an international or unspecified audience, dispense with the "an" in this case - people will snigger at you.

Edit 2:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_and_an#D ... n_a_and_an
A handful of moderators obviously approved of that - take it for what you will.
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Re: RIAA related stuff. Copyright/IP shenanigans.

Post by Philondra » 07 Jan 2009, 14:32

Cartollomew wrote:2) Herb.
Fuck you, Americans. Seriously.
I'm not kidding, they go around pronouncing it "erb". Nobody else does this. Why the hell?

Anyways, whatever. The rule of selecting language based on intended audience comes into play - your average Yank is going to read "herb" without the "h", so if you're writing for Americans, talking about how you "purchased an herbal remedy" is probably advisable.
If you are writing for an international or unspecified audience, dispense with the "an" in this case - people will snigger at you.


Well, I've had this argument with multiple people multiple times, and unlike most arguments, this is one I refuse to lose, due to one simple fact:

Wikipedia wrote:66% of the world's native English speakers are Americans.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Engli ... dified.svg

I would also point out that we use a silent "h" for "herb" (as in a plant), but a non-silent "H" for "Herb" (as in a person's name.)

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Re: RIAA related stuff. Copyright/IP shenanigans.

Post by Chappy » 07 Jan 2009, 14:49

yes the majority of english speaking ppl in the world may be americal but who better to know english then ppl form UK and also the most ppl knowing herbs are chinese gold farmers, since they steal all my erbs =P

as reference to english there is no better english word then GIT IMO
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Re: RIAA related stuff. Copyright/IP shenanigans.

Post by Cartollomew » 07 Jan 2009, 14:51

*A vast majority of Asian people speak Mandarin Chinese; I wouldn't advocate using only that language dialect when addressing a general audience of Asian people.

*
Twitapedia wrote:The European Union is a supranational union composed of 27 member states. The combined total English speaking population is 229,850,000 including 61,850,000 native speakers and 168,000,000 non-native speakers,[13] and would be ranked 2rd if it were included.


Forget native English speakers - take into account all English speakers.

Either way it'll just come down to arguing over whose authority dictates dialect vs "official" language.

Also, vaguely related:
The imperial system. It's you guys, Myanmar and Liberia.
I think it's time to let that one go.
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Re: RIAA related stuff. Copyright/IP shenanigans.

Post by Philondra » 07 Jan 2009, 15:24

Cartollomew wrote:*A vast majority of Asian people speak Mandarin Chinese; I wouldn't advocate using only that language dialect when addressing a general audience of Asian people.

*
Twitapedia wrote:The European Union is a supranational union composed of 27 member states. The combined total English speaking population is 229,850,000 including 61,850,000 native speakers and 168,000,000 non-native speakers,[13] and would be ranked 2rd if it were included.


Forget native English speakers - take into account all English speakers.

Either way it'll just come down to arguing over whose authority dictates dialect vs "official" language.

Also, vaguely related:
The imperial system. It's you guys, Myanmar and Liberia.
I think it's time to let that one go.


Well, I'll do you a favor and not inject too much commentary into your "which dialect of Asian should I use when speaking to an Asian speaker of unkown origin" absurdity.

All *I* am saying is don't accuse me of pronouncing a word wrong when (in your opinion) "the rest of the world does it the right way." All I was saying is that 66% of the native English speakers in the world (not counting Canada -- I don't know where they fall on the erb/herb spectrum) prounce it differently than you do.

I also wonder if it was one of those 168,000,000 non-native European speakers of English that came up with the brilliant turn of phrase "The combined total English speaking population ... would be ranked 2rd if it were included."

I'll start prouncing "herb" with a non-silent "h" if you start using the term "2rd". Deal?

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Re: Split: An vs A - And America vs the World

Post by Johnnyrico » 07 Jan 2009, 15:46

an horse

where the h is silent, so sound like 'orse. works fine

:b
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Re: RIAA related stuff. Copyright/IP shenanigans.

Post by Cartollomew » 07 Jan 2009, 16:58

Philondra wrote:I'll start prouncing "herb" with a non-silent "h" if you start using the term "2rd". Deal?


I went with the 3rd (3th?) option and just corrected the wiki article; my guess is that it was probably "3rd" at some point and someone changed the "3" to a "2", missing the additional required correction.

Philondra wrote:Well, I'll do you a favor and not inject too much commentary into your "which dialect of Asian should I use when speaking to an Asian speaker of unkown origin" absurdity.


Don't do me any favours if it involves ignoring an argument.

My point is this; there are dialects in many languages, including English (if you insist on using the comparitively mild differences between American and "Other" English to warrant calling them dialects). Often times, there'll be one "standard" dialect - usually arbitrarily chosen - which is intended to be used internationally or for official work.
Whether or not that standard dialect is spoken (written?) by the "majority of native speakers" isn't particularly relevant.
I know, for instance, that the "standard" Italian is practically incomprehensible to most non-metro Italians; there are a host of different dialects of Mandarin, which, as I understand it, is itself a dialect.

If you're addressing an international audience, it (usually) makes sense not to use a specific dialect over the standard one.
The majority of native English speakers being situated in the US doesn't make a compelling reason to select that "dialect" as the "standard" English dialect.

You'll find US authorities on the subject tend to disagree. Unsurprisingly, UK authorities on the subject seem to think British English is the standard.

However, I'll note that whenever I come across a comparison of the two, "British English" and "International English" seem to be used interchangeably.
I've found no such swapping for the term "American English" - hence the assumption that if one is addressing an international audience, one should not use American English.

At the bottom of all of this is a massive pile of irrelevance - the disparity between the two hardly qualifies either for "dialect" status - the differences are often a result of fashion rather than for any other reason, and usually century/ies old fashion at that.

But is it worth getting worked up over ill-considered, profanity laden comments, written off-the-cuff?
Regardless of how the example of "herb" was presented, the content stands - if writing for an American audience, apply a silent "h" (except, as you pointed out, for the name "Herb").
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Re: Split: An vs A - And America vs the World

Post by Evilelmo » 07 Jan 2009, 17:56

after scrolling through walls of text...


from now on i will use "an" with conversations with cart instead of "a".



useful!
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Cartollomew
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Re: Split: An vs A - And America vs the World

Post by Cartollomew » 07 Jan 2009, 18:10

Evilelmo wrote:after scrolling through walls of text...


from now on i will use "an" with conversations with cart instead of "a".



useful!


It's harder to do than you think.

I suggest you try it - you'll come away with a better appreciation of the spoken language, and probably wield it more skillfully too.

Practice is good for everyone - I also recommend playing most of the games from Whose Line is it Anyway, The Green Screen Show et al - one syllable word and "new choice" in particular are both hilarious and educational.

(I used to play new choice at my retail job with the other employees - makes for some pretty entertaining sales pitches)
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Re: Split: An vs A - And America vs the World

Post by Johnnyrico » 07 Jan 2009, 19:03

lolretail

sorry i had to :b
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Philondra
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Re: Split: An vs A - And America vs the World

Post by Philondra » 07 Jan 2009, 20:54

Sorry if I came across as seeming bitchy -- it's the remanants of this stomach virus that are making me hostile.

I also live in Japan, where "American English" is considered standard English, much to the consternation of 99% of the British ex-pats I've met here. This is probably because Americans make up over 90% of the English-speakers here (I will also note that Americans are only the 5th largest ex-pat community here -- and most of them stay for only 1-3 years, when compared to the 5+ years that is normal for the others in the top 5 -- Chinese, Korean, Brazilian, and Peruvian.)

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