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    #1

    Question How to pronounce the 'h' in 'an historic'

    Hello,

    How to pronounce the 'h' in 'an historic'?

    At first I thought 'an historic' is wrong, but I found this article which concludes that:
    a. both 'a historic' and 'an historic' are used and acceptable
    b. 'an historic' is on the decline in both AmE and BrE

    I came across a clip of Alex Trebek (5 sec) introducing IBM's Watson computer against human competitors in Jeopardy. I think he is saying 'an historic' with the 'h' sound. I am assuming that since he is a famous TV host, he must be right. I was expecting either 'a historic' or 'an historic' (with no 'h' sound).

    Thank you
    Last edited by Olympian; 12-Apr-2015 at 17:21. Reason: spelling correction - Strebeck->Trebek

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    #2

    Re: How to pronounce the 'h' in 'an historic'

    The h should be aspirated.

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: How to pronounce the 'h' in 'an historic'

    In AmE we use a distinct "h" sound. Therefore, we use "a historic".

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    #4

    Re: How to pronounce the 'h' in 'an historic'

    Many people say an historic and aspirate- they think it is some sort of elevated style. However, it isn't. If you say an historic, the h should be silent. The old silent h in hotel and historic is disappearing, leaving this form, which strikes me as ugly and unnecessary. Pronouncing the h and using an is like those people who think that between you and I is a posh language form IMO.

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: How to pronounce the 'h' in 'an historic'

    I say "an [h]istoric hotel" without the [h] sound in 'historic' and with [h] in 'hotel'. I find it rolls off the tongue better.

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: How to pronounce the 'h' in 'an historic'

    Many years ago, the BBC newscasters used what was considered to be absolutely correct English. If you listen to broadcasts from a few decades ago, you will find that they always said "an (h)istoric" and "an (h)otel", without sounding the "h" at all. These days, it's very rare for anyone to do so. We almost always hear/use "a historic" and "a hotel" with a clear "h" sound at the beginning of both.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  4. Raymott's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: How to pronounce the 'h' in 'an historic'

    It seems that "absolutely correct English" used to pronounce most French-derived words like "historic, hotel, honour" without the [h]. Some Latinate words don't drop the 'h' either - humour, human ...

    I can't think of any Anglo-Saxon words that drop the 'h' in good English - horse, house, hack, hick, him, her, hat, happy. That might be useful for some learners.

  5. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: How to pronounce the 'h' in 'an historic'

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    In AmE we use a distinct "h" sound. Therefore, we use "a historic".
    I'm American and I say "an 'istoric."
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #9

    Re: How to pronounce the 'h' in 'an historic'

    Thank you all for your responses. English is hard to learn for foreigners. These variations make it even harder. By the way, can I use the word 'idiosyncrasies' here instead of 'variations', or does the word 'idiosyncrasies' only applies to persons?

    I have another word starting with 'h'. The freedictionary says 'herb' can be with or without 'h'. (rb, hrb)
    So I take it that it can be either 'a herb' or 'an herb'?

    The name 'Herb' (short for 'Herbert') is with an 'h', right?

    Thank you again

  6. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: How to pronounce the 'h' in 'an historic'

    Americans do say the h in herb. I believe our UK friends do not.

    edit: brain cramp. I absolutely meant this the other way around!
    Last edited by Barb_D; 13-Apr-2015 at 03:37.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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