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A Pain in the Aitch
National Review Online, by Jay Nordlinger

Original Article

Posted By:StormCnter, 11/29/2012 2:57:22 PM

For many years, I went back and forth on the issue of “a historian,” “an historian.” There are people who feel very, very strongly about this. Some consider “an historian” a complete abomination. “You wouldn’t say ‘an house,’ huh, huh?” There came a time when I stopped going back and forth. The truth is, both ways are used, legitimate, and correct. You go by ear. That answer is unsatisfying to many — but it’s right, I believe. Most of the time, probably, I say “an historian,” and therefore write it. I would never say “an history of Greece.”

      


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Reply 1 - Posted by: plex, 11/29/2012 3:04:39 PM     (No. 9039830)

But there is a rule. If the H is aspirated, as it is in "history", you use "a". If the H is un-aspirated as in honor you use "an".

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Reply 2 - Posted by: jorgecito, 11/29/2012 5:44:12 PM     (No. 9040078)

Good rule, #1.

Nordlinger says he plays it by ear. That´s what I do too.

I think our "ears" anticipate the aspiration (or lack of it) - so that we just obeying the rule without thinking about it.

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