Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Language on NPR

Jeffrey Dvorkin, NPR's ombudsman, discusses pronunciation and grammar complaints from listeners.

There are plenty of the usual suspects who vs. whom, mispronunciation of foreign names, no an in front of H's -- but there was one response I didn't suspect, on the latter. Dvorkin finds:
The use of "an historic" is in fact, not technically incorrect but is now considered archaic and pedantic. According to Fowler's Dictionary of English Usage:

A is used before all consonants except silent 'h' (a history, an hour); an was formerly usual before an unaccented syllable beginning with h (an historical work), but now that the h in such words is pronounced, the distinction has become pedantic, and a historical should be said and written...

NPR's reference librarian uses a more journalistic source to back Mr. Everest's concern. According to Kee Malesky:

The AP Stylebook 2005 agrees:

Use the article a before consonant sounds: a historic event...

(As we discussed, this is just a personal affectation. It should be discouraged.)

Also, there's mention of how to pronounce Roberts's and Miers's. Dvorkin calls the pronunciation of the second S archaic.

(Link via Romenesko)


At 4:04 AM, January 14, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. How interesting..


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