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Aitch Ee Ell Pee!

21 August 2014

Don’t drop your aitches. We’ve all heard someone saying it – usually a picky parent to an errant offspring. Perhaps a teacher parading in front of the class, preaching good grammar and decent behaviour to 30 kids who couldn’t care less.

Yet, despite all the snobbish stammering and deliberate ignorance, some of those phrases and lectures sink into our subconscious. And they return to bother us when we think the world is listening to our every word.

Now, when asked to speak proper, the ol’ brain cogs chug along, and it all comes back to us. Don’t drop your aitches. Or, as some seem to recall, don’t drop your haitches.

So in formal conversation, these people adopt their best telephone voice and add a letter H where it really isn’t needed – right at the start of the pronunciation of the letter – and come out with the non-word haitch.

With their friends it’s probably aitch all day long. Along with owt, nowt and, over ‘ere, on me ‘ead.

Yet then they go and perpetuate the problem by telling their kids how not to talk.

You hear it every day in conversation. You hear it on TV. It’s even taught by ill-educated teachers to kids in primary schools.

But it’s just plain wrong.

Check any dictionary and you’ll see what we mean. It’s spelt A-I-T-C-H.

So why add an extra H?

Perhaps these grammatical sinners think it’s classier, in a pompous, desperate-to-impress, Hyacinth Bucket sort of way.

Maybe this kind of hypercorrection comes from old-fashioned pronunciations that deliberately dropped the H from the start of some words – leaving us with such monstrosities as an hotelan historic, and an herb.

Or could it be that some folk are just easily confused? They see the words written down, and simply cannot understand why an HR department isn’t pronounced the same as a human resources department. But, then, we can’t understand how an office full of people in suits doing less than bugger-all can be classed as any form of resource anyway…

The worst culprit of all, of course, is BBC News, whose current mission, it seems, is to dumb down its oh-so-embarrassingly-middle class received pronunciation that’s for so many years been known as BBC English. When BBC journalists slaughter our hearing with horrible haitch, all we can do is scream.

Oh, FFS!

Or should that be feff feff sess?


Posted by Dan.

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