An before a word beginning with h, and where the stress is not on the first syllable, is correct in British English. The usual three are an hotel, an historic __________, and an historian. It is very formal, and rare in spoken English - usually used by newsreaders.
Thanks for the responses. Well, "an hour" is definitely correct because of the pronunciation of hour as "our" (vowel sound), but I don't see how historic could be pronounced as 'istoric, except perhaps in a Cockney accent! The rule pertaining to second syllable stress does seem plausible, but I think I would go for a hotel, a historian and an historic ____, regardless.
You're right that the "h" in "historic" should be pronounced in standard English. It's not really a pronunciation issue.
Whichever you decide to go for, you need to be consistent. If you write "an historic", you should also write "an hotel" and "an historian". Choose one rule and stick to it; don't keep changing your mind.
The indefinite article "an" is used before words that start with a vowel[ except those with the long "u" sound --a university, a UFO and many others] and before words beginning with an unvoiced "h"
an honest opinion
an honourable man
Thus, "historic" is supposed to get the indefinite article "a" - here , the sound "h" is voiced . See more examples:
a hotel, a hostess, a huge mistake, etc.
If you want to take an FCE exam or some others the previously written grammar rules on indefinite article should be taken into consideration
Even so, many writers use an before h, even when not silent, when the word is not accented on the first syllable.
An historian, such as we have been attempting to describe, would indeed be an intellectual prodigy.—Macaulay.
The Persians were an heroic people like the Greeks.-Brewer
He [Rip] evinced an hereditary disposition to attend to anything else but his business.—Irving.
An habitual submission of the understanding to mere events and images.—Coleridge.
An hereditary tenure of these offices.—Thomas Jefferson.
One small point, teia: "H" is not voiced. A "voiced" consonant is, for example, "b" compared to the unvoiced "p". The sound represented by "h" is an unvoiced aspirate. In words like "honour" it is not pronounced; in "history" it is pronounced but not voiced.