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Subject:Re: a vs. an - RANT From:"Brian Harris" <blh -at- cyberscience -dot- com> To:<techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com> Date:Thu, 9 Mar 2000 16:27:33 -0000
Who is to say what is or isn't an "unwanted" change to any language?
The French have an academy to fight against changes in their language, but
it doesn't seem to stop people using "Englishisms" (for want of a better
word) like "le weekend" and so on. Lisa is right. Why be so prescriptive
about 'correct' and 'incorrect' language? The only rule is, be understood. A
or an. Few readers will notice. Even fewer will care. None will
misunderstand. If you think something sounds old-fashioned then don't use
it. It's your choice as an author.
As long as the tone and style is consistent and appropriate for the
audience, it really doesn't matter.
"Experts" in languge tend to study its history rather than prescribe how it
should be used. No disrespect to the French but to do that is foolish and
ultimately futile. Write a document in "rap-speak" if you think it will
work. "Yo! Check dis box one time to big up da font."
blh -at- cyberscience -dot- com
"A 'istorical rhetorical oracle"
----- Original Message -----
From: Nickell Traduction <nickelltrad -at- autoroute -dot- net>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Sent: Thursday, March 09, 2000 3:18 PM
Subject: Re: a vs. an - RANT
> Sorry, but I need some clarification here. First you say that "a" is used
> before a consonant sound in the Harbrace College Handbook, which includes
> "h", and then you say that an historical is correct (emphatically) because
> you were always taught that way. Isn't that a contradiction?
> Anyway, I find that everytime I hear "I was always taught that way, so
> correct" reminds me of a woman I knew who told me I had to put something a
> certain way (it escapes me at the moment). I told her that I had no
> with it if she could tell me what stylebook she was getting it from,
> everything I had seen said otherwise. She got very mad and said, "I'm
> English, and I've always learned in school it was this way, so it's
> It turned out she was quite wrong, but she assumed it to be correct,
> somebody somewhere had said so, so be careful and ready to back yourself
> before assuming anything, and look at different sources to find out what's
> the most common usage. Anyway, from what I've seen, it used to be used,
> is on the way out today, so why would you want to date yourself and use an
> antiquated form, especially if you've made it your life's work to be an
> "expert" in the language and to keep up to date with the "official"
> in this "living" language. Purists do have their place, because there are
> "unwanted" changes to the language as well, but their stubbornness about
> certain issues would mean that we'd still be writing the same as they did
> centuries ago.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jo Francis Byrd <jbyrd -at- byrdwrites -dot- com>
> To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
> Cc: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
> Date: Wednesday, March 08, 2000 4:28 PM
> Subject: Re: a vs. an
> |Here's what my handy Harbrace College Handbook, tenth edition, 1988,
> |Use "a" before the sound of a consonant: a yard, a U-turn, a one-base
> |"an" before a vowel sound: an empty can, an M.D., an ax, an X-ray."
> |I was always taught you use "an" before words beginning with "h," so "an
> |historical moment" IS grammatically correct.
> |Jo Byrd
> |Kelly Parr wrote:
> |> Can anyone tell me the grammatical rule for using:
> |> "an historical moment."
> |> I hear this a lot on public radio, etc., and I'm pretty sure it's
> |> I'm having a debate with a colleague.
> |> The typical rule is to use "a" before words beginning with a consonant
> |> consonant sound (including "y" and "w" words) and "an" before words
> |> with a vowel or vowel sound. So why "an historical moment"? I'm
> |> pronounced "an 'istorical..." Is this a British convention that we've
> |> into American usage?
> |> TIA
> |> Kelly
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