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Do you say 'aitch' or 'haitch'?

09:48 UK time, Thursday, 28 October 2010

The British Library is asking the public to help it track how pronunciation is shifting in Britain. What changes have you noticed?

Volunteers are being asked to record a chapter from a Mr Man book to see how certain words and accents are changing.

The library says youngsters are now more likely to say "haitch" than "aitch" when pronouncing the letter H.

When saying the word "mischievous", they prefer to pronounce it "mischeevy-us" rather than "mischivus", curators add. Young people are also more likely to have different way of saying words such as garage, schedule, migraine and harass.

How do you pronounce words like garage, schedule and migraine? Have you noticed many changes in pronunciation? Should language be allowed to evolve, or should there be some rules on correct pronunciation?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

Comments

Page 1 of 6

  • Comment number 1.

    I asy 'aitch', because that's the correct pronunciation.

  • Comment number 2.

    Part of the difficulty is that some people rely upon the spoken word rather than the written word to determine pronunciation, especially if they are illiterate - mischievous is a case in point.

    I don't mind too much if words are pronounced slightly differently to the way I use them, but this persistent use of "haitch" sounds as if it has left the mouths of simpletons. What on earth were they taught at school, I wonder?

  • Comment number 3.

    Do you say 'aitch' or 'haitch'?

    As long as people understand you does it matter?

    In 14th century England accents were so diverse that people from London had great difficulty understanding people from Kent.

    Its only since the advent of national media, both radio & television that pronunciation has become as homogenised as it is today.

    If you go Holland, Germany or Belgium you can hear young people speaking English in exactly the same 'MTV Europe' accent.

    For the first time in history, pronuniciation is gradually becoming truly universal.

    So tell me again why it matters if you say 'aitch or haitch' at this point in the early 21st century?



  • Comment number 4.

    If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.

  • Comment number 5.

    Should language be allowed to evolve?

    Or what?

    Is someone suggesting we should bring in the language police?

  • Comment number 6.

    I say 'aitch'. I think the changes are due to americanisation of the language.

  • Comment number 7.

    Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.

    ------
    'arbitrariness'

    Is that an ironic Bushism you've thrown in there?

  • Comment number 8.

    I would very much like to know the correct pronunciation for the word -

    Ideology! Is it 'i' as in eye or 'i' as in lid?

    I find it intolerable that some politicians/BBC reporters use the 'i' as in lid or idiot - Bush, Blair and others! While I was always taught to pronounce the 'i' as 'eye' or idol - But various different dictionaries have 'ahy' 'eye' and 'id' - so annoying!

  • Comment number 9.

    'arbitrariness'

    I stand shamed & corrected - its a real word.

  • Comment number 10.

    I say 'haitch' coz it got an 'h' in it innit?!

  • Comment number 11.

    One of the other words on Today Program was kilometre, when talking distance I normally say kilo-metre, (old fashioned) but speed (kph) kil-om-etre (new way). Does anyone else say the same word differently in different contexts.

  • Comment number 12.

    I stopped pronouncing it as 'haitch' when I was about eleven.

    I don't notice how people pronounce it though, it's understanable in both formats and language evolves naturally.

    Que sara sara.

  • Comment number 13.

    I always thought it was "aitch" although one teacher at my granchildren's school says it's haitch which has the sound of affectation to me
    Let's face it English spelling is ridiculous, our children spend years learning to spell, what a waste of time. Writing is intented to communicate ideas so why not concentrate on those ideas and content not the spelling. Extra letters were added in the Middle Ages by the Flemish printers who were paid by the letter. So nothing changes on that score. Many intelligent children are hampered and discouraged by difficulty in learning to read and spell. Surely it could be made more simple and logical, perhaps we could then concentrate on more useful skills. Although it would deprive the spelling snobs the feeling of superiority they seem to enjoy

  • Comment number 14.

    Language does certainly evolve and that's a good thing. We can't all be trying to exist in a modern society with 18th century vocabulary BUT saying mischievious when you mean mischievous has nothing to do with language evolution. It simply means you can't read. Saying haitch when you mean aitch is the ultimate fool proof way of showing you are a bit thick and want to sound upper class but have no idea how.
    Garage or garaage, bath or barth, etc, who cares, that's just a regional accent.

  • Comment number 15.

    I love accents, long may they continue and evolve, however, it really winds me up when people say 'congraDulations' - what's that all about?!!

  • Comment number 16.

    The last thing we need is the "Word Police"

  • Comment number 17.

    It depends on which language I am speaking at the time: if English, then it would be 'aitch' as that is the correct pronunciation in that language.

    The main change I have noticed is acceptance of slovenly pronunciation, even - dare I say it - on the BBC. (There is one individual who provokes a groan in our house whenever they appear on the screen: we know we will barely understand the local weather that day!) This is particularly noticeable with some people who have regional or 'ethnic' accents, although the majority are still capable of clear and accurate pronuciation without compromising their accent.

    Perhaps I pay more attention than most, as Welsh - a phonetic language - is my native tongue. Are we more accurate in pronuciation when speaking a 'foreign' language, even one in which we are completely fluent?

  • Comment number 18.

    I’m against the conservative language Gestapo whining about irrelevant grammar mistakes, or ‘correct ways of doing things’. They’ve clearly no idea how the colourful English language of today has evolved and changed after every immigration wave we’ve had. I think it’s exciting that it’s changing because that’s what our language has always done.

    If you refuse to evolve with the rest of the county you will lose your voice.

  • Comment number 19.

    7. At 10:20am on 28 Oct 2010, InertiaStalls wrote:

    Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.

    ------
    'arbitrariness'

    Is that an ironic Bushism you've thrown in there?


    No, arbitrariness is a derivative noun of the word arbitrary.

    http://oxforddictionaries.com/view/entry/m_en_gb0037410#m_en_gb0037410.007

  • Comment number 20.

    This is one of my pet hates, using 'haitch' has the same effect on me as running your nails down a blackboard has on many others.

    And while language must evolve, do we really want it to evolve into something completely unintelligible to those over the age of 21, just take a shopping trip in London and you will see what I mean!

  • Comment number 21.

    1. At 10:09am on 28 Oct 2010, Mary Chambers wrote:
    I say 'aitch', because that's the correct pronunciation.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Totally agree

    I just hope children at school are being taught correctly.

    I speak English not English-American.

  • Comment number 22.

    13. At 10:32am on 28 Oct 2010, Lucy Clake wrote:
    I always thought it was "aitch" although one teacher at my granchildren's school says it's haitch which has the sound of affectation to me
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Or, being a cynic, demonstrates the poor standards of modern teaching and teachers!

  • Comment number 23.


    I think it is a good thing languages evolve however listening to some ... people almost makes my ears bleed - do they have any idea how stupid they sound?

    I use public transport everyday so I unfortunately overhear a lot of conversations and they almost hurt.
    I think its almost a status statement to talk lik 'ow u txt

  • Comment number 24.

    "11. At 10:26am on 28 Oct 2010, JohnnyMo wrote:
    Does anyone else say the same word differently in different contexts."

    ---------------
    Not so much in different contexts, but I'm sure I'm not very consistent in using either (eye-ther) or either (ee-ther).
    Perhaps it's neither?....

  • Comment number 25.

    Not sure if this is related, but this always cracks me up:

    Stewie: Ooh, let me have some of that Cool Hwhip.
    Brian: What'd you say?
    Stewie: You can't have a pie without Cool Hwhip.
    Brian: Cool Hwhip?
    Stewie: Cool Hwhip, yeah.
    Brian: You mean Cool Whip.
    Stewie: Yeah, Cool Hwhip.
    Brian: Cool Whip.
    Stewie: Cool Hwhip.
    Brian: Cool Whip.
    Stewie: Cool Hwhip.
    Brian: You're saying it weird. Why are you putting so much emphasis on the H?
    Stewie: What are you talking about? I'm just saying it. Cool Hwhip. You put Cool Hwhip on pie. Pie tastes better with Cool Hwhip.
    Brian: Say whip.
    Stewie: Whip.
    Brian: Now say Cool Whip.
    Stewie: Cool Hwhip.
    Brian: Cool Whip.
    Stewie: Cool Hwhip.
    Brian: Cool Whip.
    Stewie: Cool Hwhip.
    Brian: You're eating hair!

    Family Guy

  • Comment number 26.

    I would say that some people may pronounce words differently when reading them as opposed to saying them in a conversation. Maybe that should be investigated and taken into account during the study.

    And as #3 has said, as long as people are understood, does it matter? We aren't robots.

    As for the question 'Should language be allowed to evolve' - it has and does and how would you stop it?

  • Comment number 27.

    As a linguist and TEFL teacher I believe some authority should be in place to oversee and guide the development of English. Variation in common-usage changes in pronunciation and grammar, the use of prepositions and the introduction of new words in all parts of the English-speaking world means that English is gradually evolving into different languages. This is what happened to Latin, which now presents as Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese and others. France has its Académie to guard its language from further corruption, which could be emulated for English, but the problem is "who does English belong to?". There are more first-language English speakers in other countries than in England, so do we reserve the right as the "inventors" of the language, or should the country with the most speakers have that privilege? My choice would be an English Academy in England that determines correct language, which would certainly correct domestic anomalies, but that would not stop other countries from evolving their own version of English. I predict that in 100 years time, "English" will only be spoken in the British Isles; Australia and New Zealand will be similar, but North America, Africa and the Indian sub-continent will be speaking new languages that have evolved from English. In any case, the upsurge in Spanish-speaking, particularly in the USA, probably signals its development into the main world language, and the gradual demise of English. Francis Drake might just as well have continued playing bowls on Plymouth Hoe, thus saving several hundred years of linguistic evolution. Eso si que es !!

  • Comment number 28.

    As others have mentioned, 'haitch' sounds too much like an affectation.

    Dropping H's is one thing... but the deliberate omission of H by some people in (h)otel and (h)erb for example, is just orrible.

  • Comment number 29.

    Why would anyone say "mischeevy-ous". Where's the "i"? It boils down to ignorance. One that thing winds me up is the Australian Question Intonation. If it isn't a question, then don't say it like it is.

  • Comment number 30.

    3. At 10:15am on 28 Oct 2010, InertiaStalls wrote:
    ". . .In 14th century England accents were so diverse that people from London had great difficulty understanding people from Kent."

    I have a great deal of difficulty understanding people from London anyway: they just seem to talk a load of codswallop all the time.

    With regard to the 14th century, I can remember my father telling me that when as a child he visited the next village he became upset because he thought he'd been taken to a foreign country and couldn't comprehend the language that they spoke. That would have been Lancashire in the 1920's. Some might say that little has changed.

    Personally, I pronounce "my" as "me" (influenced by Strine films and soap operas), "schedule" as "sched-yawl", "bacon" as "beer can", "Peterborough" as "Peed-a-bowo" and "justice" as "jyus-tice" (in the manner of Louis Armstrong). The rest of the time, however, I speak fraffly good English.

    15. At 10:34am on 28 Oct 2010, Kate no mates wrote:
    "I love accents, long may they continue and evolve, however, it really winds me up when people say 'congraDulations' "

    My own sentiments entirely. And what about "Cuventry" in stead of Coventry?

  • Comment number 31.

    I say 'aitch'. I went to a non-denominational school in Scotland but I have noticed that most of my catholic friends, who were educated in seperate schools from exactly the same area and speak with exactly the same accent, use 'haitch'.

    My two daughters have picked up an annoying habit of using 'zee' instead of 'zed'. This comes from watching American childrens shows and the Disney channel.

  • Comment number 32.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 33.

    I say 'aitch', but I do say 'mischeevy-us'. I hadn't really thought about that one before. Another oddity is people saying 'et' in place of 'ate'...

  • Comment number 34.

    Nevermind that I absolutely hate 'haitch', what really matters is that we all understand what is being said. The problem today is that there is a large number of the younger generation who simply can't be understood, in a verbal sense, by us older folk because they no longer speak English!

    This is NOT about the 'Word Police', as one contributor put it, it's about communication and communication requires that we speak in a way that is understood by the vast majority of us. Without that, we may as well go back and live in caves and abandon the last many thousands of years of development!

  • Comment number 35.

    18. At 10:38am on 28 Oct 2010, Mookas44 wrote:

    I’m against the conservative language Gestapo whining about irrelevant grammar mistakes, or ‘correct ways of doing things’.

    ---------------------------------------


    Hi Mookas44,
    So tell me, why do you communicate your ideas in a way which is completely understandable to English speaking and reading people?
    Is it because you want to communicate your ideas in a completely understandable way?
    Correct English seems to have served you very well. You didn`t get where you are today by talking and writing like an uncouth, uneducated fool.
    A little gratitude to your old English teacher wouldn`t go amiss.

  • Comment number 36.

    People worry too much.

    Why does it matter how its pronounced? If it's aitch then should we proncounce home as ome, hot as ot, hello ello, happy appy. etc

    Language differs depending where your from.

  • Comment number 37.

    1. At 10:09am on 28 Oct 2010, Mary Chambers wrote:
    "I say 'aitch', because that's the correct pronunciation."

    Or do you mean "that's the correct pronunciation because that's the way I say it"?

    Personally I love the Brummie version: "oitch"!

  • Comment number 38.

    I've lived in a variety of places and have picked up varuious spoken traits- if I'm talking to my mother it's a garadge, but if the car needs a service it's a gararge, a schedule is either a sheddule or a skedule depending on whether is's a flight or a plan of work, but it's usually a sheddule and a migraine is a mygraine

  • Comment number 39.

    My pet hate is not english regional accents I can cope with that Its the
    Bastardisation of the English Language by the Americans that really blows my top And yet they maintain they are speaking English.
    This sudden hyphonation of words such as Co-lin,Jo-lie,The mis pronunciation like Carribean to Keribyan. The misinterpretation like Fanny. The misspelling like flavour to flavor, colour to name a few. The film industry even took legal action to change the name Technicolor under copyright law so that it couldnt be altered. When will they accept they are speaking american not English. Theres little wonder our kids grow up with confused minds. I can only think this is another ploy for America to lead the world in the new order as I have come across a few times on the computer where a programme will ask for your language preference to find there is American English but no England English option.
    So I wait for the day it is American rules football and baseball is the national series and not the world series.

  • Comment number 40.

    I have nothing against the evolution of language. I do, however object when TV presenters say 'haitch' - if your job involves sitting on a sofa saying things in English, you should be able to speak English properly. I know alot of people do say 'haitch' and one day it will probably become the accepted correct pronunciation, but at the moment, people who say 'haitch' are just betraying their own ignorance.

  • Comment number 41.

    I don't think we should confuse local accents with (yes the word is with and NOT "wiv") a complete failure to use appropriate grammar and pronunciation. In my view, to do otherwise reflects a lack of education and a lazy approach to the use of English.

  • Comment number 42.

    Languages evolve - it's a natural process. No-one should have a problem with this.

    However, we do need to ensure that it evoloution that's taking place - and not it's reverse.

    I would suggest most forcefully that 'yoofspeak' and 'textspeak' cannot possibly be defined as evolution.

  • Comment number 43.

    12. At 10:31am on 28 Oct 2010, LoonyLiberal wrote:
    I stopped pronouncing it as 'haitch' when I was about eleven.

    I don't notice how people pronounce it though, it's understanable in both formats and language evolves naturally.

    Que sara sara.
    --------
    Or you could say Que sera sera........... ;-)

  • Comment number 44.

    Our native language, (English), has rules of pronunciation that have been progressively ignored by ever more dumb teachers over the decades. This is ignorance at best and negligence at worst; it is certainly not "evolution". Chief among horrors is the glottal stop in place of the closing letter "T". Acceptable within the cockney dialect but abominable as an import from the hip hop idiom. Chief among culprits are some members of the Shadow Cabinet. Ed Balls (previous Education Minister !!!) does not sound his closing "Tees". Neither does the Leader of the Opposition. Instead of "What", we hear Wha(gh). Ugly and sloppy, but then are we surprised ? Its hip to be cool. For my part I readliy correct misuse of pronunciation by example. When informed my shopping basket costs "Firghee Aigh Pands awtoogever" I just politely ask if in translation they mean "Thirty Eight Pounds all together". It wont change either them or the world, but it makes me feel good. And yes I'm a grumpy, old, very right wing and intolerant non PC person. And proud to articulate and pronounce our language correctly. No we do not need a change to the 'Rules. Go(gh) I(gh) ?

  • Comment number 45.

    The egsinlh lgaangue is vrey pfowuerl, you can eilsay tlel waht is bneig teypd or sekpon, eevn wehn all the ltetres are meixd up. I tnihk its ievrrnelat how we say sthinomeg, so lnog as it is urseotndod!

  • Comment number 46.

    I pronounce the letter's name as 'aitch'. But I do not maintain by any means that this is 'correct', because it is in fact an example of a pronunciation that has drifted off course. What I mean is this: the letters of the Roman version of the alphabet - the Latin alphabet - had names which were more or less acrophonic. The sound at the start of the letter name reflected the sound sympbolised by that letter. In the case of the letter H, we are dealing with a complex history. Already in very early Latin (i.e. pre-Classical) there is evidence that the H was a sound on the verge of disappearing. This tendency was realised in later Latin and today in the Romance languages there is no sound H. This is probably the source of the English avoidance of the sound. 'Haitch' as the letter name is much better, as it reflects English pronunciation to a greater extent, although I admit to personally not liking it!

  • Comment number 47.

    I can tell you more and more Scots are saying 'lock' instead of 'loch'.

    When you quiz them about it, they'll deny it, but you can clearly hear it.

    You can hear this with the other names and words containing 'ch' which should be pronounced the same as 'loch'.

    For instance, for Lochwinnoch in North Ayrshire people will say 'lockwinnock'.

    Basically, it's just laziness, although there is also the element of a very English-centric media, which itself is becoming rather Americanised.

    I know it's off-topic, b

  • Comment number 48.

    I say 'aitch', because that's the correct pronunciation. Anything else sounds clumsy. I also dislike 'vegEtables', 'bath' and 'path' pronounced to rhyme with 'hath' and 'castle' pronounced as 'cassle'; aks instead of ask (even though it was the original pronunciation); 'EyeDyllic' and, last but in no way least, 'pronounciation' instead of 'pronunciation'....... ohhhhh - and 'Wid' - there is NO SUCH WORD!

  • Comment number 49.

    "Mischievous, mischeevy-us, garidge, gararge, Let's call the whole thing off"

  • Comment number 50.

    ar think orl onya should ave a second langwidj - Standard English would be most suitable for that!

  • Comment number 51.

    'ave 'eard nuffin.

  • Comment number 52.

    It is pronounced aitch, not haitch. In the same way that 'yes' is pronounced 'yes' and not 'absolutely' which seems to be the preferred way of responding in the positive by too many people nowadays.

  • Comment number 53.

    8. At 10:20am on 28 Oct 2010, The Ghosts of John Galt wrote:
    ". . .Ideology! Is it 'i' as in eye or 'i' as in lid?

    I find it intolerable that some politicians/BBC reporters use the 'i' as in lid or idiot - Bush, Blair and others!"

    Do you not think that it's just one of languages' eyediosyncrasies? I must agree though about Bush, Blair and others: it just makes them sound like ee-jits.

  • Comment number 54.

    1. At 10:09am on 28 Oct 2010, Mary Chambers wrote:
    I asy 'aitch', because that's the correct pronunciation.

    *****************************************************

    Hate to break it to you, but there is no such thing as correct pronunciation. There's received pronunciation- ie. BBC English.

    On another note- English is stupid for pronunciation: kghoti could feasible be pronounced fish:

    K is knife is silent
    GH in cough is F
    O in women is I
    TI is station is SH.

  • Comment number 55.

    I would of thought it was obvious it's haitch to the great uneducable.
    Since when did we have a verb 'to of' ?

  • Comment number 56.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 57.

    "36. At 11:11am on 28 Oct 2010, puddinpop wrote:
    Why does it matter how its pronounced? If it's aitch then should we proncounce home as ome, hot as ot, hello ello, happy appy. etc"

    -----------

    So because F is pronounced Eff, 'Fox' should really be pronounced 'Effox'?

    I'll challenge you to find a word beginning with W that is actually pronounced as 'dubbleyoo....'

  • Comment number 58.

    aitch. AITCH!!!

  • Comment number 59.

    There's a fine line between sloppy speaking and accents but, strangly, I find "haitches" usually come from those who don't pronouce their "th's": "free" instead of "three" etc

  • Comment number 60.

    "Indeed the younger you are the more likely you are to make says rhyme with lays rather than fez, ate rhyme with late rather than bet." - original article.

    Living in Northern Ireland, my accent is a whole different ball game. says rhymes with lays and fex here - and ate would never rhyme with bet wherever your from!

    On the Haitch vs Aitch thing, when I was at school, one pronunciation meant you were catholic and the other protestant... as a youth worker I still hear that said...

  • Comment number 61.

    the rain in spain,still, falls mainly on the plain.it is true.have you got it,got it? tha rayn in spayne fouls mainley on thi ole plane av gor it av gor it...you certainly have,so keep it keep it to yourself...

  • Comment number 62.

    Do you say "mem", "nen", "sess" or "feff"?

    No? Then please don't say "haitch" either. Thanks.

  • Comment number 63.

    They shouldn't be discouraged from saying "haitch". After all, its the letter which represents the "h" sound.

  • Comment number 64.

    It's spelt 'aitch', is it not? Anyone pronouncing it as "haitch" just sounds ignorant to me.

  • Comment number 65.

    48. At 11:30am on 28 Oct 2010, Bibi wrote:

    I say 'aitch', because that's the correct pronunciation. Anything else sounds clumsy. (...) 'bath' and 'path' pronounced to rhyme with 'hath' and 'castle' pronounced as 'cassle';

    ***************************************

    Actually, bath, not barth ect was the original way of saying it. It became altered to barth because London types wanted to distinguish themselves from how west counrty people spoke.

    Interesting one- leiutenant- how many people would pronounce it the "English" Lefftenant, how many "American" Lootenant?

  • Comment number 66.

    Like I used to like say like aitch like, but now like I say like haitch. I'm not sure like which is like the best like version, innit.
    Try asking one of our more learned teenagers, pretty much pick any, and you will see how our language has been destroyed, like.

  • Comment number 67.

    Whilst pronunciation differs with region, with northern 'grass' and southern 'grarse' for example, this doesn't assume incorrect spelling. Saying 'haitch' instead of 'aitch' is wrong because the word doesn't begin with an 'H'.
    Similarly, there is no 'e', 'i' or 'y' after the 'v' of mischievous, so why pronounce it as 'mischeevy-us'? It makes people sound ill-educated if they mispronounce words.

    And to all those who say we don't need a 'word police' and what does it matter - well it matters because it is how we communicate; incorrect pronunciation and grammar can change the meanings, so how do you expect to get your point across correctly if your meaning can be misconstrued?

    Also, if it's ok to get English wrong, why not maths? Would you be happy if someone short-changed you and when you complained they said, "oh look, it's the number police, who cares?"...

  • Comment number 68.

    Remember now children:

    F is for Frog.
    G is for Goat.
    H is for 'orse.
    I is for Iguana.

    The pronounciation of a letter should correspond with the words it goes with! If you want to abbreviate, go right ahead, but in my education I was sure well taught to speak from my lungs through to my throat and not from the back of my mouth. What happens when we say the letter like this? We produce a 'huh' sound, as in haitch.

    H is for Heinous History Hautilly Harks Hieroglyphics. Try saying that as 'aitch

  • Comment number 69.

    I have always understood 'haitch' to be a child's mispronunciation, similar to the way a child gets past tenses muddled when they are learning to speak (flyed' instead of 'flew' etc). If taught correctly, then the child eventually learns to say the correct pronunciation, which is 'aitch'.

    However, quite WHY the correct pronunciation is 'aitch' is something I don't understand: most other letters of the alphabet are pronounced in a way that begins with the letter in question: BEE, DEE, JAY, KAY, etc. So, it's easy to see why a young child would make the mistake, in the same way as they try and follow the general rule that when something happens in the past, one adds "-ed" to a word. But why 'aitch' breaks this rule, I don't know.

  • Comment number 70.

    This has nothing to with the americanisation of the English language. From past experience and research (this has been a bugbear for me since I first heard a BBC announcer, some years ago, mispronouncing the letter in one of the abbreviations in use during one of the links on BBC1), the mispronunciation migrated across the Irish Sea from the Emerald Isle and seems to have entrenched itself with the great unwashed, more specifically the less literate of our society.

    Although language evolves, I can't help but agree with pzero (comment 20) when he/she says that it has the same effect as "running your nails down a blackboard" on my long-suffering sensibilities.

    Long gone are the halcyon days of the BBC accent, supplanted by the street talk, wannabe gangstahs, (yes, I know it's slang and probably spelt incorrectly, but what the hey?), Vicky Pollard soundalikes, text speak. Innit?

    I don't care if my kids think I'm an old fart - I'm proud to call myself an old fart, if old-fartdom means maintenance of certain standards.

  • Comment number 71.

    "40. At 11:18am on 28 Oct 2010, Billy wrote:
    I have nothing against the evolution of language. I do, however object when TV presenters say 'haitch' - if your job involves sitting on a sofa saying things in English, you should be able to speak English properly."

    Absolutely. And "an hotel"

    The letter H is the only one without its own sound in its name.

    The grammer that comes back from staff at my son's school is beyond belief.

  • Comment number 72.

    The text says that it is a generation thing, with younger people more likely to say "haitch". In my observation, it is a factor of education - irrespective of age, the more eductated people will pronounce it "aitch" and the less eductaed as "haitch". Perhaps the fact that there are a higher number of younger people saying "haitch" is a symptom of the quality of education?

  • Comment number 73.

    The English language has been changed for ever due to numerous factors - incompetent teachers, immigration, laziness, americanisms, mobile phones etc.

  • Comment number 74.

    'aitch or 'haitch - I say 'aitch
    Mischeevy-us or mischivus - I used to say mischeevy-us and now I say mischivus. I hadn't stopped to consider why. Now I am, I put it down to having heard the latter more used by those who wouldn't normally wilfully abuse our language.
    How do you pronounce words like garage, schedule and migraine? Have you noticed many changes in pronunciation?
    Garage - I pronounce as garidge
    Schedule - I pronounce as skedule
    Migraine - I pronounce as mygrain

    I do occasionally hear alternative pronounciations for these words, but generally the most common usage is the same as mine.

    Chris makes a point in #32 that I have observed myself many times before - arxed as opposed to asked.

    One deviation on pronounciation which does grate on me is changing the letter 't' to a 'd' - for example, liddle instead of little.

  • Comment number 75.

    Didn't we do this one a few weeks ago when Emma Thompson (no coincidence that she has the same initials as a short, wrinky alien) started spouting off? Ah well, nvm.
    Generally I say Aitch but sometimes I get caught out with a Haitch. My half Italian hubby has spent years training me to say eSpresso rather than eXpresso, which is his pet hate.
    I am a lover of language & the sound of words (& have been know to make a few up on occasion, my favourite being "outwitticised" when someone beat me to a particularly good gag!)Despite being a Southern softy I litter my speech with Northernisms (is that a word, or one I made up?) such as skeg & mardy & have even been know to chuck a bit of Del Boy style Franglais, along with a bit of L33T speak, in there just for fun. I don't get too wound up when language is twisted. Good job too as I work in a college so spend my days listening to "Isn't it though" (pronounced "in i doh") and their current favourite "Oh. My. Days!"
    From the article in todays magazine piece I learned that "pristine" used to be pronounced to rhyme with wine & that during the 19th century it was considered correct to drop the H from hospital & herb, but say "Erb" now & you're met with cries of "Americanism". Makes me giggle to think the majority of people making such a fuss are actually not talking correctly at all!
    Language is fluid & ever changing & I, personally, like it like that. The world has moved on from classic BBC recieved pronunciation being the "correct" way to speak, can we lighten up for a second, there is no "correct" way to speak. You'll learn far more & be a richer person for immersing yourself in all the worlds languages & dialects than you will by hiding at home refusing to listen to anyone but Ian McKellan (though if I had to only hear one voice for the rest of my life his would be the one, after my hubby ofc!" All that being said I am not immune to my own little prejudices of vocabulary & the two I particularly can't stand are "Did you ARKS me a question?" No I ASKED it! & "he sent me loads of TEXTSES" no *sigh* he sent you a load of TEXTS.

  • Comment number 76.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 77.

    I say aitch because that's the correct pronounciation of the letter. One of my real bug bears is the disintegration of correct grammar, as witnessed every day when reading the BBC web site. Almost every story I have read has at least one grammatical or spelling error, or worse completely muddled sentences that, in some instances, stop in the middle and make absolutely no sense. I thought the BBC was the last bastion of correct English, not any more. Next thing we know the BBC will be publishing it's stories in 'txt spk'.

  • Comment number 78.

    Both are deemed as acceptable pronunciations, so where is the problem?

    Someone touched on catholics in Scotland using 'haitch'. In Northern Ireland, it is how Catholics and Protestants are easily identified. It is actually used to determine whether or not you get a beating for being in the wrong area! I will never forget being asked to pronounce the 'eighth letter of the alphabet' and pronouncing it wrong and getting a hiding for my troubles.

    So bear that in mind with your petty squables over how to proper pronunciations.

  • Comment number 79.

    I pronounce it has "aitch"....as do all the people I know, so I'm not sure where "haitch" comes from...

  • Comment number 80.

    Is'nt aich the same as smack or brown!!!

  • Comment number 81.

    I once had someone try arguing that it should be "haitch" because all letters start the the letter itself! Simply pointed out how stupid "W" would sound if that was the case.

  • Comment number 82.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 83.

    Well I am an 'Aitch' person, and I confess that I can't help thinking that people who say 'Haitch' are still baby-speaking. However classmates at primary school were saying 'Haitch' back in the 70s, so I am very used to this variant - or perhaps now the main form!?

    The bit that amuses me about this particular variant, is why it isn't applied to the remaining third of our alphabet, i.e. should 'F' be pronounced 'Feff'? Should 'L' be pronounced 'Lell'? should 'M' be pronounced 'Mem'? and perhap 'W' 'Wubble-you'...?

    Language evolves, we can't stop it; and to a very large degree we must accept it. But it ain't 'alf fun to 'ave a right go at it! Perhaps, to really rile people, we should start assigning arbitrary "speaking ages" to them - "You speak at the level of a 4-year old..."; perhaps this way it is the one remaining area an employer can discriminate against? "Must have the ability to speak like a 21-year old or better". Although I suspect that's just ageist.

  • Comment number 84.

    Further to Graham from Scotlands point above.

    The distinction in Northern Ireland is almost absolute:

    Protestants say 'aitch'
    Catholics say 'haitch'

    It's one amongst several tactics people subtly use to determine a strangers religion.

  • Comment number 85.

    47. At 11:28am on 28 Oct 2010, scotbot wrote:

    I can tell you more and more Scots are saying 'lock' instead of 'loch'.

    When you quiz them about it, they'll deny it, but you can clearly hear it.

    You can hear this with the other names and words containing 'ch' which should be pronounced the same as 'loch'.

    For instance, for Lochwinnoch in North Ayrshire people will say 'lockwinnock'.

    Basically, it's just laziness, although there is also the element of a very English-centric media, which itself is becoming rather Americanised.

    I know it's off-topic, b


    Not only that but it's in Renfrewshire.

    Lochwinnoch, that is

    wawtar for water is another

  • Comment number 86.

    65. At 11:58am on 28 Oct 2010, lucyloopy wrote:

    48. At 11:30am on 28 Oct 2010, Bibi wrote:

    I say 'aitch', because that's the correct pronunciation. Anything else sounds clumsy. (...) 'bath' and 'path' pronounced to rhyme with 'hath' and 'castle' pronounced as 'cassle';

    ***************************************

    Actually, bath, not barth ect was the original way of saying it. It became altered to barth because London types wanted to distinguish themselves from how west counrty people spoke.

    Interesting one- leiutenant- how many people would pronounce it the "English" Lefftenant, how many "American" Lootenant?

    ------------------------

    Although I was born in the north of England, I mostly grew up in the south east and said barth for bath, as the vast majority in that region do. I have now lived in the north of England for 20 years and for most of that time I have pronounced it as bath, path as path instead of parth and staff as staff instead of starf.

    And I say leftenant. The American pronounciation is as good as alien to me.

  • Comment number 87.

    Ask any foreigner - English is the most difficult and illogical language to learn. Consider the pronounciation (actually pronounced as 'pro-nun-ciation' of course) of the letter group 'ough', viz:
    cough, bough, though, through, rough, ought - it's a nightmare!

    The best example I recall from my childhood is the word 'ghoti', which would be pronounced as 'fish', taking the 'gh' as 'ff' from 'rough', the 'o' as 'i' from 'women', and the 'ti' as 'sh' from 'motion' Ludicrous, but fun!

    Actually, I find there remains a place for a common understanding of pronounciation. We have been encouraged for many years to believe that life is all about increasing choices. Anyone wanting to get to the top of the tree will find it harder if their pronounciation smacks of anything odd or rustic (allowing for regional accents, many of which - though not all - are deemed acceptable). Encouraging people to speak (and spell) properly can only enhance their life chances.

  • Comment number 88.

    'Haitch' just sounds so 'common' to me, the people I hear saying it also say 'fink', 'fink' and 'wot'.

    'Aitch', on the other hand, is more refined and, well, posh if you like.

    This is second on my list of hated things people say; double negatives top the list. Gets me so riled when I hear expressions like 'We aint go no brains'.

    Hey I'm an Essex boy too. So I don't not know nuffink about it - right.

  • Comment number 89.

    Time was when it was a matter of personal pride to talk properly. 'H' is pronounced 'Aitch'. 'Asked' is pronounced 'asked' and not 'axed'. But for real class, we need to look to our American friends. Eye-rack? Do me a favour. And don't forget Alloominnum, Bay-zull and Oh-raygan-o. I could go on, but my head would explode. Okay, so the last few are Americanisms but give it time...and don't call it American-English. Not in my company anyway. As for language 'evolving', well I guess if a word is pronounced wrongly by enough of the population for long enough then yes, it will become the norm. That doesn't make me any happier though.

  • Comment number 90.

    I say 'aitch' and I'm only just over 35!
    I was told off as a child for pronouncing the 10th letter of the alphabet wrongly: 'Jay' (rhyming with 'pay') was correct and 'Jiy' (rhyming with 'high') was wrong according to my mum. Although I think that one had more to do with Edinburgh vs Glasgow snobbery!

  • Comment number 91.

    It's a shame most people are only concentrating on one small part of the original question - it makes the debate so shallow.

    One of the really bad things I've noticed over the past year or so is the change from using the word "invitation" to using "INvite". Yet another example of how the language is being corrupted by sub-standard American influences.

  • Comment number 92.

    @11. At 10:26am on 28 Oct 2010, JohnnyMo wrote:
    "One of the other words on Today Program was kilometre, when talking distance I normally say kilo-metre, (old fashioned) but speed (kph) kil-om-etre (new way). Does anyone else say the same word differently in different contexts."
    One good example (I think) is the word "invalid" which has two different meanings depending on whether the first or second syllable is stressed. Perhaps not quite the example you were looking for though.

  • Comment number 93.

    Reply to Jonny Mo (I hope that's spelt correct)
    You are right about 'kilometre'
    I do exactly the same.
    And what about the old tomato, potato problem.
    I pronounce tomato tom- art- to (not like Craig from strictly- but in a normal way)
    Potato, I pronounce Pot-a-to.
    Funny it's spelt the same and pronounced different.
    I think as long as people have a good education and know the meanings and spellings of words, does it really matter how we pronounce them?????

  • Comment number 94.

    English is the world's most powerful language precisely because of its ability to evolve. Look at the way the French invent nonsensical words in a sad and paranoid attempt to prevent their language being anglicised. Look at the way they weep when English is used at the EU. Labour may have finished the English but their language will live as long as humanity.

  • Comment number 95.

    @75. At 12:08pm on 28 Oct 2010, RubbishGirl wrote:
    "From the article in todays magazine piece I learned that "pristine" used to be pronounced to rhyme with wine & that during the 19th century it was considered correct to drop the H from hospital & herb, but say "Erb" now & you're met with cries of "Americanism"."
    Bill Bryson's "Mother Tongue" is a good source of such evidence. No doubt there are others.

  • Comment number 96.

    I say "haytch" because my grandmother was from Donegal and that was how it was pronounced there.
    However in Belfast people from a Protestant background would generally say "aych" whereas Catholics would pronounce it "haytch".
    Strange but true.

  • Comment number 97.

    A few years back, I managed an IT Help Desk. There was a standard joke amongst ourselves that the only time one of the girls on the desk pronounced an "H" was when spelling something out letter by letter to a caller when she would always say Haitch, whereas she would tell people she was "appy working on the 'elp desk".

  • Comment number 98.

    I have a heavy accent. I catch the number 37 buzz and not the bus. I looook at a booook and not luck at a buck.

    As for H? Well it's ay, bee, cee, dee, eee, eff, gee, haitch, eye, jay, kay, elle, em en......

    I do hate americansms though. American - the only country to translate english into english and get it wrong.

  • Comment number 99.

    Strange really, when I say the alphabet I instinctively say "gee .. aitch ... eye ... jay".

    But it wasn't until reletively recently (when I went through a period of intense Scrabble-ing) that I saw the actual spelling.

    It is interesting how people defend their version of H even when presented with the actual spelling.

  • Comment number 100.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

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