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@ Robert Sommers 2018

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A homage

I was ixnayed from a guy's Google + webpage last night.

I thought that we were having a frank and friendly discussion regarding grammar and the proper usage of language.

He evidently thought I was being a word nazi. He got pissy and muted or blocked me. The guy is a pretty good still life photographer. Actually an excellent still life photographer. He posted a nice picture of apples with this sentence.

Apples. A homage.

I wrote back a brief reply.

An (?)

And got this response:


Well, that is sort of news to me. I know that we are a little backward but where I hail from, the h is silent. I decided to do a bit of research and found this article on the subject in the New York Times by Ben Zimmer, circa 2010. It appears that the world at large is pretty evenly split on the subject. I sent the article to Mr. Dunbar and got a pithy response that I felt was not even on point.


Actually the Oxford Dictionary citation he sent over didn't even mention homage, it talked about other situations where the h in a word is never silent like horrific. Maybe this guy is a limey? Maybe he thinks we New Worlders have been screwing up the queen's english ever since we threw the damn tea into the harbor back in Boston? Who knows? My only prior correspondence with the bloke was one time when he tried to give me an art history lesson which I politely declined because I have a pretty good grasp on the subject already and he was being a tad condescending if not patronizing.

I was done with the conversation basically anyway but decided to send him this paragraph from the article in case he somehow missed it.
Dropping the “h” sound from homage appears to be gathering steam in American speech, and other dictionaries will no doubt begin to reflect this move. This actually represents a return to a much older pronunciation pattern. As with many other imports from Norman French into Middle English, the initial “h” was not originally pronounced in homage.
He got pissy and then sent me into cyber exile.


I asked the boys at coffee where they stood on the subject. About seven or eight of them. To a man they, like me, hearkened back to the original french and did not pronounce the h. Maybe it's just a british thing, not that I know where this guy actually hearkens from, and not like I really care. But here in California we say it with the h silent.


This is the first time that I can recall that I have undergone a cyber banishment but probably not the last. The things I do for language. Sorry to get under your bonnet, Mike.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

My father was a High School English teacher, with his degree in English from N.Y.U., so I asked him about this issue many years ago. He seemed certain (and his explanation makes sense) that the silent H was prevalent once upon a time. I believe the Cockney accent still uses silent H in words such as History - 'istory, 'is and 'ers for His and Hers, 'alf a pint/// etc. That style of speaking has evolved into many different dialects through the years. In the USA, "History" is pronounced with a hard H, thus, it should be preceded with "a" and not "an". In a word such as "honor" it should be preceded with "an". That's how it was explained to me, and I'm sticking with that.

Every time I hear someone say for instance, "an historical fact", it makes me cringe.

Blue Heron said...

I agree with your father.

Anonymous said...

He sounds a tad arrogant. Probably from the "upper crust".
I don't care for his type much, they starved a million members of my tribe on the Emerald Isle.

Blue Heron said...

A scot actually. http://www.mikedunbar.co.uk/

Patrick said...

For what it's worth, I am also Scottish.
Although English was not my first language, by now it's no bad.
Until around 10 years ago I never heard homage without the h except in the french hommage and perhaps the odd movie critic.
Still in the UK the most common pronunciation would be with a definite h but without is getting more common.
I can't imagine the queen saying 'omage.
P