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CB27
1375683.  Fri Feb 26, 2021 7:14 am Reply with quote

I get the American use of "An herb" (even though I still they're wrong... :p) because Herb is one of those words that's pronounced differently between two ends of the pond though.

I find most British people pronounce it as Herb, but most Americans pronounce it as Erb.

 
Jenny
1375721.  Fri Feb 26, 2021 3:53 pm Reply with quote

Yes it's definitely erb over here, as in erb tea.

 
Efros
1375722.  Fri Feb 26, 2021 3:54 pm Reply with quote

and erbal cigarettes, wink wink.

 
Brock
1375726.  Fri Feb 26, 2021 4:18 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:

Horse is a Germanic word, and my mother would have told me off I'd said an orse.


"House" is also a Germanic word, and yet the King James Bible has: "Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself..." (Psalm 84:3). Does this mean that the "h" was silent in King James's day, or that it was customary to use "an" even before an aspirated "h"?

 
suze
1375731.  Fri Feb 26, 2021 6:00 pm Reply with quote

Sonewhere in between, I think.

The KJV was first published in 1611, and uses an before practically all nouns beginning with <h>. We see an house as cited, we see an horse in Psalm 33, and there are others.

Now it gets complicated. Since I am a left footer, my Bible of choice is Douay-Rheims, and the text generally used today is that of Richard Challoner, Titular Bishop of Doberus in 1752. The ans have gone as you can see here. (You will also note that the RCs and the C of E number the Psalms differently. It's because "my" lot use the Greek numbering and "your" lot use the Hebrew numbering.)

So by 1752 those ans were archaic. And yet, the text to which you link is in fact the 1769 Oxford text. The spelling has been modernised from the sparrowe and her selfe of 1611, but the ans are still there. So we conclude that the ans were left in by the C of E as a conscious archaism, but were they in fact a conscious archaism even in 1611?

Possibly. The First Folio of Shakespeare appeared in 1623, and its Richard III offers his Kingdome for a Horse.

On the other hand, in its Two Gentlemen of Verona, Launce tells Speed that if he won't accompany him to the pub then he is "an Hebrew, a Iew". (On which basis, Speed decides that maybe he will come along for beer.)

The usual explanation here is that the <H> in Hebrew was silent at this time. It's silent in French, it's not even there in Ivrit, and its presence in present day English is a spurious Classicism scarcely better than the <p> in ptarmigan.

 
Brock
1375742.  Sat Feb 27, 2021 5:27 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Since I am a left footer, my Bible of choice is Douay-Rheims, and the text generally used today is that of Richard Challoner, Titular Bishop of Doberus in 1752. The ans have gone as you can see here.


Not only that, the swallow has somehow become a "turtle"...

Probably the most famous example from the Bible is the one used by Alan Bennett in his spoof sermon from Beyond the Fringe: "My brother Esau is an hairy man, but I am a smooth man". I was thus a little surprised to check the original (Genesis 27:11) in the online KJV text and find:

Quote:
And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man:


Was Bennett quoting a different version, or did he invent the "an" for comedy purposes?

 
suze
1375767.  Sat Feb 27, 2021 8:45 am Reply with quote

Brock wrote:
Not only that, the swallow has somehow become a "turtle"...


That puzzled me too, and I could not at once explain it. George Leo Haydock, who published a detailed commentary on the Douay-Rheims Bible in 1811, observed that "Moderns prefer to render swallows, without reason", but even then it was a bit of stretch to consider the 1611 KJV as "modern".

Some C20 Bibles use "turtle doves" there, and it may be that these rather than hard-shelled reptiles were meant all along - but that goes beyond my Bible knowledge.


Brock wrote:
Probably the most famous example from the Bible is the one used by Alan Bennett in his spoof sermon from Beyond the Fringe: "My brother Esau is an hairy man, but I am a smooth man". I was thus a little surprised to check the original (Genesis 27:11) in the online KJV text and find:

Quote:
And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man:


Was Bennett quoting a different version, or did he invent the "an" for comedy purposes?



Even the 1611 KJV has a rather than an there. It may be that Alan Bennett knew all about the ans and just assumed it without actually checking the Bible.

Mr Bennett went to a C of E school, so the Bible of his youth probably was KJV. But he identifies as an agnostic so he may not have a Bible in his home, and it was raining so a trip to the library didn't appeal.

So yes, either a bit of Conan Doyle-esque sloppiness, or he made it up for comic effect.

 
Brock
1375770.  Sat Feb 27, 2021 9:12 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:

Some C20 Bibles use "turtle doves" there, and it may be that these rather than hard-shelled reptiles were meant all along - but that goes beyond my Bible knowledge.


I would imagine so. "The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land" (Song of Solomon 2:12). Modern translations have "the voice of the turtledove" or "the cooing of doves".

 

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