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  1. bewildered
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    #1

    Question need an answer to an arguement

    My friend and I are arguing over the correct word to preceed "Hotel". I argue that it should be "A hotel" as it is not a vowel. She argues it should be "an hotel" with a silent "H". Does anyone now which it should be to put us out of our misery. Thanks

  2. #2

    Re: need an answer to an arguement

    You are both right; so no need to argue :)

    an hotel is formal, very formal, and very rare in speech. Some people use an before words beginning with h and where the stress is not on the first syllable; the most common examples are an hotel and an historic ....
    a hotel, a historic, etc is also good English.


    • Join Date: Mar 2006
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    #3

    Re: need an answer to an arguement

    Quote Originally Posted by bewildered View Post
    My friend and I are arguing over the correct word to preceed "Hotel". I argue that it should be "A hotel" as it is not a vowel. She argues it should be "an hotel" with a silent "H". Does anyone now which it should be to put us out of our misery. Thanks
    The traditional official answer is that 'a' is used before an aspirated, or voiced, 'h' (for example 'hotel'), and that 'an' is used before an unaspirated 'h' (for example, 'hour').

    The 'h' in 'hotel' is not silent - it is aspirated - and so the article should be 'a'. You can verify the aspiration by saying "the Hotel California" - only in strong dialect speech would this be pronounced as "the 'Otel California". By contrast, "the hour is nigh" is pronounced by all English speakers with a silent 'h'.

    That said, the traditional answer is disputed by some liberal linguists, who would claim either article is permissible in all cases. Fowler's Modern English Usage, 3rd Edition makes this claim, for example.


    • Join Date: Mar 2006
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    #4

    Re: need an answer to an arguement

    Quote Originally Posted by Vlad_the_Inhaler View Post
    You are both right; so no need to argue :)
    an hotel is formal, very formal, and very rare in speech. Some people use an before words beginning with h and where the stress is not on the first syllable; the most common examples are an hotel and an historic ....
    a hotel, a historic, etc is also good English.
    This is not true. "An hotel" is not formal - in traditional English usage, it is in fact incorrect.

  3. #5

    Re: need an answer to an arguement

    Quote Originally Posted by Coffa View Post
    This is not true. "An hotel" is not formal - in traditional English usage, it is in fact incorrect.
    It is certainly not incorrect. Where on earth did you get that idea?


    • Join Date: May 2006
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    #6

    Re: need an answer to an arguement

    Is it plummy?

  4. #7

    Re: need an answer to an arguement

    Quote Originally Posted by Humble View Post
    Is it plummy?
    Plummy is the perfect adjective. It reminds me of old BBC radio newsreaders.


    • Join Date: Mar 2006
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    #8

    Re: need an answer to an arguement

    Quote Originally Posted by Vlad_the_Inhaler View Post
    It is certainly not incorrect. Where on earth did you get that idea?
    Because dropping aitches is a feature of non-standard dialects, and in standard English, the 'h' in 'hotel' is aspirated. An aspirated 'h' is preceded by the indefinite article 'a', not 'an', according to traditional rules.

    You may be referring to the "hyperlect" or "Queen's English", which used to be/is spoken by some of the English aristocracy. The hyperlect is not Received Pronounciation, and does not constitute 'formal' spoken English. Formal English is RP.

  5. #9

    Re: need an answer to an arguement

    Quote Originally Posted by Coffa View Post
    Because dropping aitches is a feature of non-standard dialects, and in standard English, the 'h' in 'hotel' is aspirated. An aspirated 'h' is preceded by the indefinite article 'a', not 'an', according to traditional rules.
    You may be referring to the "hyperlect" or "Queen's English", which used to be/is spoken by some of the English aristocracy. The hyperlect is not Received Pronounciation, and does not constitute 'formal' spoken English. Formal English is RP.
    RP is pronunciation, and this is a grammar issue.
    The usage has nothing to do with dropping aitches; the h must remain aspirated. It dates (according to some) from Middle English; so it is correct English now, and it has been correct English for centuries.
    Its origin probably was the French habit of dropping aitches in Latin words, but a lot of our language is mispronounced Latin, for example 'via'. Some say the criteria is words of three syllables or more (excluding 'hotel'); others just claim that the stress must not be on the first syllable (so 'hotel' is fine). The test, as always, is usage.

    http://www.betterwritingskills.com/tip-w005.html
    "A quick bit of Googling reveals that the phrase "a historic" is used on 1.43 million pages (68%), and "an historic" on 675,000 pages (32%).

    Which form you use seems to be little more than a personal preference. Both usages are sufficiently common to be considered correct in modern English."
    Last edited by Vlad_the_Inhaler; 14-Aug-2006 at 19:14.


    • Join Date: Mar 2006
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    #10

    Re: need an answer to an arguement

    Quote Originally Posted by Vlad_the_Inhaler View Post
    RP is pronunciation, and this is a grammar issue.
    The usage has nothing to do with dropping aitches; the h must remain aspirated. It dates (according to some) from Middle English; so it is correct English now, and it has been correct English for centuries.
    Its origin probably was the French habit of dropping aitches in Latin words, but a lot of our language is mispronounced Latin, for example 'via'. Some say the criteria is words of three syllables or more (excluding 'hotel'); others just claim that the stress must not be on the first syllable (so 'hotel' is fine). The test, as always, is usage.
    http://www.betterwritingskills.com/tip-w005.html
    "A quick bit of Googling reveals that the phrase "a historic" is used on 1.43 million pages (68%), and "an historic" on 675,000 pages (32%).
    Which form you use seems to be little more than a personal preference. Both usages are sufficiently common to be considered correct in modern English."
    I'm afraid I disagree. The grammar rule is whether you use 'a' or 'an', and the TRADITIONAL grammar rule is quite clear - you use 'a' if the 'h' is aspirated, and 'an' otherwise. The 'h' cannot be aspirated if it is silent, by definition. So it then becomes a matter of pronounciation. The point of contention is whether you accept the traditional grammar rule - some do, some don't, and that is why some linguists say you can use either.

    Now, we come to the pronounciation. What IS true is that in Middle English many more words were pronounced with a silent, unaspirated 'h', probably, as you say, because of a Norman French influence. For example, the King James Bible has the following text from Genesis: "And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years." At the time, 'hundred' was unaspirated. It is not now, because Modern English changed that pronounciation. RP is based on Modern English, and in Modern English both 'hotel' and 'history' have aspirated aitches. So formal Modern English would dictate the use of 'a', not 'an'.
    Last edited by Coffa; 14-Aug-2006 at 22:44. Reason: typo

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