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|A question about grammar
Written by Cathy Allen
(9/6/2009 11:44 p.m.)
I'm aware that the English language has changed in the 200 years since JA: in spelling, grammar, even pronunciation (and the last is probably the most difficult to track). What I'm wondering about is JA's use of the indefinite article "an" preceding a word beginning with an "h" -- an house, an hill, etc. There are many, many examples of this usage found throughout her works, and they first appear in S&S in chapter 5, I believe.
Perhaps there's no way to know the answer to this question, or perhaps I'm making a mountain out of a molehill, but it occurred to me that perhaps these words were differently pronounced in JA's time, which would necessitate the use of "an" -- specifically, did they drop the "h" when speaking, so it would be pronounced "an 'ouse" or "an 'ill" much as we think of people with a cockney accent doing today? Or, was it just a JA idiosyncracy? Or maybe it's a 200 year-old change in language?
Is there anyway to know? I'm very curious. Thanks for your help!
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