The future of H

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The letter aitch seems to be used increasingly on British television news and advertising referring, for example, to HD and institutions such as HMRC and  HSBC - there are plenty of them.   And I am appalled by the frequency with which it is pronounced "Haitch" by newsreaders and other broadcasters  who earn their living by speaking.

 

My own theory was that the problem originated among cockneys,  trying to avoid "dropping their aitches".  But it seems to be a countrywide phenomenon.  Worse, I have  discussed it with my grandchildren and learnt to my horror that they have been taught to say "haitch" in school. 

 

Is this going on in other Anglophone countries?

asked Jun 15 '13 at 14:21 Michael Cranfield Expert

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The English language has great regional variation in pronounciation, accent, and usage. Is it "zee" or "zed"? 

 

The proper usage can be debated endlessly -- and we will never come to agreement.

 

Several academic studies of regional speech differences recently made the news in America.  While the media focused on one question -- is the generic term for a carbonated beverage soda? pop? or coke? -- the studies addressed a varierty of usage and pronounciation issues.

 

Look at http://www.nbcnews.com/health/soda-or-pop-coo-pon-or-cyu-pon-maps-reveal-6C10225517?franchiseSlug=healthmain or

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/06/13/4102986/soda-coke-or-pop-raleigh-grad.html

for maps showing this linguistic diversity.

link answered Jun 15 '13 at 14:54 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

PS I can't believe that you wrote "pronounciation" ! A slip of the finger, presumably. Or is that Standard English in the US?

Michael CranfieldJun 15 '13 at 18:46

Slip, plus I'm not yet used to wearing my new computer glasses (so I wasn't really looking at what I typed).

Jeff PribylJun 16 '13 at 00:13

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Thank you Jeff, but I am not in the least worried about the way the English language has changed in the US, or parts thereof;  my concern is about the proliferation of  the letter "haitch" which is an aberration I have yet to find in an English dictionary.

I have,  however,  discovered the answer to my question by the simple expedient of googling "haitch".   There I found an abundance of debate and information on the subject -  including the fact that "haitch" is a marker of religious persuasion in Ireland - and the general level of abhorrence shown toward this growing trend is quite reassuring.  But the thought that 24% of British youth now believes "haitch"  to be corrrect is still disturbing.    

Perhaps the answer is to follow the example set by That Mitchell and Webb Show Series 4 - Episode 1 (Grammar Nazi)  which Greenlaner uploaded to The Student Room.  Well worth seeing!

 

The fight for our aitch is not yet lost,  as was demonstrated only last night on LBC (London talk radio) when a caller was cut off for saying haitch!   A major step forward!

link answered Jun 15 '13 at 16:55 Michael Cranfield Expert

I say, fight on. I have my own pet peaves over language usage that I will fight to my last breath -- but I'm afraid I'm losing those battles. As much as I want to be a linguistic perscriptivist, I'm afraid the descriptivists are right ... the language evolves and there is no stopping it. If I had lived 500 years ago, the Great Vowel Shift - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Vowel_Shift - would have driven me batty.

Jeff PribylJun 15 '13 at 17:48

Pet peeves? Second on my list is "myself and....". As in "Myself and John went to the game" instead of "John and I.....". You can now hear it every day in the UK. Ugh!

Michael CranfieldJun 15 '13 at 18:39

Even on a grammar site, we generally give contributors a pass on minor errors as we have many folks to help and so little time. The future of "H?" when North Korea, Syria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq and (still) Northern Ireland are troublesome, you are worried about whether a newscaster (excuse me: presenter) pronounces the letter "H" aitch or haitch? It's no wonder you must pay tax to listen to radio or watch television.

Brother DaveJun 16 '13 at 03:42

Which, I cannot help but wonder, do you find more worrying: North Korea et al or two spaces between sentences?

Michael CranfieldJun 19 '13 at 18:54

Eventually we'll just nuke NK back to the stone age (come to think of it, outside Pyongyang – a Potemkin Village if ever there were one – the NK's haven't yet left the stone age, but I digress. If you continue to put two spaces between sentences you'll be joining them there as that is an outdated method of punctuation in this age of computerized typesetting. I thought the example I gave you would be convincing. If that one didn’t work, there were many others that said essentially the same thing should you simply Google it.

This follow-up question just causes one to wonder if you are one of those people who cannot tolerate constructive criticism. Those are the ones who master one "great thing" in their lives, then look down upon those who are not at their level in that subject. They take joy in commenting and correcting when it involves that "great thing" when its use doesn’t meet your standards. I loathe that you somehow stumbled upon Grammarly... and now, without even collecting your quid, you've dragged me into Room 12A.

Brother DaveJun 20 '13 at 17:15

How "snide". How "untoward".

Michael CranfieldJun 20 '13 at 18:52

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I am convinced the letter "H" will, in the future, remain the eighth letter of both the UK and US versions of the Latin-based alphabet. Unfortunately this may not be the case in the 80% of the remainder of the English speaking world where some UK-sympathetic grammarians are considering a swap (since they control the rules of English); making "J" the eighth and "H" the tenth letters respectively.

link answered Jun 16 '13 at 02:33 Brother Dave Contributor

Whether you like it or not, "some UK-sympathetic grammarians" do not control the rules of English. Nobody controls it, even if many find reward in writing about the language.

Michael CranfieldJun 19 '13 at 18:57

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