Why Americans Drop the H in Herb | Distant Words

herbs herbs play a surprising but

critical role in the British American

pronunciation divide indeed one need

only scour the ruins of early 21st

century internet forums to realize that

neither side can agree on how to say the

likes of basil Oregon Oh how do you let

me know below

but peruse those forums long enough and

you'll come to find the same is also

true of the word herb itself you see

unlike me Americans are in fact prone to

dropping CH a policy that some in

Britain view as an all-out act of war

one they might well wage by adding an H

to the word age it's all confusing but

if the case were ever brought before the

International Criminal Court of

pronounciation America would have one

heck of a defense case indeed they'd

receive instant exoneration where they

to cite chapter four of Lynn Murphy's

book The Prodigal tongue the love-hate

relationship between American and

British English you see in the early

days of herbes English life the H was

not pronounced and for the very reason

that there was no H to pronounce later

influenced by this Latin spelling the

word evolved into what we know today but

crucially the English as in my people

continue to pronounce it with a silent H

and this makes sense because we did

precisely the same with other old French

words like Ernest and our in fact we

still do Shh don't tell anyone

moreover you only have to go back to the

19th century to find instances of the

British themselves saying herb without

an H actually you needn't even go that

far back am i right a grid from Harry

Potter however by the Victorian age and

early twentieth-century age dropping in

Britain had become a marker of low

social status those that drop them like

Eliza Doolittle in my fair lady were

cast aside as plebs while those at the

top Henry Higgins and the like believed

firmly that hurricanes hardly happen

this h vs. h less classified continues

if subconsciously in england to this

very day whereas no such distinction is

made in the united states to americans

this linguistic evolution was likely

lost in the pond and they simply

continued to pronounce it the way they'd

always pronounced it you could say in

fact as lynn murphy does that it's less

a case of americans dropping the h and

more a case of as brits adding one no

further questions your honor


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