I am not an historian

Post date: May 16, 2014 9:33:22 PM

Even though I do have a degree in history, I would never ever call myself an historian. That is because I know proper grammar, and I am not Cockney. David Letterman once told a joke about "an historian." Radio talk show host Thom Hartmann once said, "an historian," and then later corrected himself. One of my history professors used to say he was "an historian" all the time. This wouldn't bother me so much, if they pronounced the word as, "istorian." But they don't. They pronounce the "H" as a consonant in all its glory.

The rule is very simple. It's the one your kindergarten teacher taught you. "An" goes before words that start with vowels or sound as if they begin with vowels. Otherwise, the article you use is "a." So you have to consider whether you're pronouncing "historian" as "istorian" or "hiss-torian." The word, "history," unlike the word, "honor," uses an aspirated "H." So it is treated as the consonant it is.