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expo86
04-21-2010, 01:43 AM
A colleague and I are in disagreement. Please help.

Should it be a historical event or an historical event? Does it make a difference if it's Canadian English?

Thanks.

Cupid
04-21-2010, 01:48 AM
I say "a historical" event - although some people think the "h" is silent, and therefore say "an historical event." I think both are correct.

Cloudy_Gumdrops
04-21-2010, 01:49 AM
'An historical event' sounds more right to me.

But, 'a historical event' is probably correct.

Matryeshka
04-21-2010, 01:56 AM
An historical event is right, but it sounds stilted, like it's part of a conspiracy to make us all sound like English bulters. Probably the same people that thought up the word "whom."

marbri
04-21-2010, 02:12 AM
I was taught "an" when the "h" makes the sound it does in words like historical.

Prancer
04-21-2010, 02:18 AM
It depends. Traditionally, British and often Canadian speakers did not aspirate the h, ('istorical) and so used an. Americans generally did aspirate the h (hissssssstorical) and so used a.

But according to the CBC, the use of an is dying in both Canada and the UK, as more people aspirate the h at the beginning of words

http://www.cbc.ca/news/indepth/words/ananda.html

marbri
04-21-2010, 02:23 AM
I guess that shows my age. Interesting article though but I was surprised to read most North Americans drop the "h" in "herbs". I don't know that I've ever heard it said that way over here (aside from French Canadians who wouldn't know an "h" if it hit them in the face ;) xo)

Prancer
04-21-2010, 02:35 AM
I guess that shows my age. Interesting article though but I was surprised to read most North Americans drop the "h" in "herbs".

I've never heard hhhhhhherb; it's always 'erb. :lol:

Veronika
04-21-2010, 02:37 AM
Pretty much what Prancer said--if the "h" is silent, use "an." If it's not, use "a." :)

GarrAarghHrumph
04-21-2010, 02:43 AM
It's 'erb where I grew up near Boston. And oddly enough, get this - it's "hhhhistorical" with the H, but it's "an 'istorical event."

I've just tested a bunch of my friends from home, and they all do this, as do I and my husband.

Prancer
04-21-2010, 03:09 AM
This was always a tricky one when I was editing, because no matter which way you write it, there are people who will consider it wrong. And it will all depend on how they pronounce the words, so there is no way to whack them over the head with some rule you pull out of a book and declare to be LAW.

The end result of this for me is that both versions sound wrong. :P

suep1963
04-21-2010, 03:11 AM
As for the herb thing--does anyone remember the Night Court episode where (at the end of the show) the punch line was "That isn't herb tea--that's HERB!"

:rofl:

Aussie Willy
04-21-2010, 03:46 AM
That is a tough one. I thought you could have used both and they would both sound correct.

Someone here at work thought that you use "an" when the next word starts with vowel.

bardtoob
04-21-2010, 04:30 AM
Someone here at work thought that you use "an" when the next word starts with vowel.

I was taught this also, that the rule is based on the way the words are written.

However, I later learned by way of studying other languages that such rules are based on how the words sound when properly spoken, and came into existence to maintain the continuity of the rhythm of the spoken form as sounded by native speakers (usually of high social status).

Squibble
04-21-2010, 06:55 AM
I do not understand why anyone other than a Cockney would ever use the article "an" before "historic" or "historical." No one would say "an History student," "an hiss," "an hysterical reaction," "an Hispanic," or "an hysterectomy." So why would "an historical novel" ever be correct?