Every-Day Words and Their Uses; A Guide to Correct Diction

 
9781459071537: Every-Day Words and Their Uses; A Guide to Correct Diction
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This historic book may have numerous typos, missing text or index. Purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. 1916. Not illustrated. Excerpt: ... A A or An. Correct use of a and an is entirely a matter of correct pronunciation. We use a before a word beginning with a consonant, and an before a word beginning with a vowel. In this rule aspirated h and the sound of consonant y, however indicated (as for example Europe), count as consonants. But a word beginning with either of these sounds in an unaccented syllable is commonly preceded by an in written speech, though orally a is commonly used in this position. Thus we write, a history, an historian, a habit, an habitual smoker, a unit, an united nation. It may be that in practice we do not say "an historian." Neither do we articulately say "a historian." We open the teeth slightly and make an obscure vowel sound to represent both the a and the i, neglecting the h entirely, and make no articulation till we come to the s. The truth is that whether we use a or an we seldom pronounce h beginning an unstressed syllable. The rule given here is that given by both English and American authorities, but it fairly represents the American practice as seen by German eyes: Americans always pronounce their aitches in stressed or accented syllables (except in a few old words of Latin origin, such as honest, honor, and hour) and they leave them out in unstressed syllables. In prohibit, for instance, the h is pronounced; in pro(h)i6ttion it is silent. In the sentence "(H)e (h)ad hid (h)is hand under (h)er hat," four of the aitches are ordinarily1 silent" (Schooch and Kron, The Little Yankee). That something like this is our practice, we admit by the formulation of our rule. If we condemn "an habitual smoker," and "an historian," as pedantic, we go a step further and acknowledge that, having dropped the h, we drop the n also. This may be the practice of a majority of speakers ...

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