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An H, or a H?
October 18, 2007 5:51 AM   Subscribe

An hegemon or a hegemon?

Which are right:

Blah blah Liberals* say or blah blah liberals say? (when referring to people within that school)

Blah blah Realism is or blah blah realism is? (when referring to the school itself)


I can has edumacation?

*As in the school within international relations.
posted by oxford blue to Law & Government (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Are you pronouncing the H in your version of English?
posted by smackfu at 6:13 AM on October 18, 2007


A hegemon. Using "a" or "an" depends on whether the h is aspirated.

small-l liberal is a person who holds the ideology, while capitalization is used for members of a party that has that as its title, such as the Liberal Party of Canada.

Not sure about what the principle is on realism.
posted by Dead Man at 6:24 AM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


This has always driven me nuts. "An" should be used if the H is silent - an herb garden (as pronounced in US english), but - a historic occasion or a horrible crime. For some unknown reason people constantly use "an historic" occasion as if they were Michael Caine delivering the same line.
posted by horsemuth at 6:39 AM on October 18, 2007


Well it's "Dada," but "surrealism."

Languagehat are your ears on?

--

horsemuth, I use "an historic occasion" but I don't asperate the H in that phrase (it sounds like "an istoric occasion").
posted by oddman at 6:44 AM on October 18, 2007


Lots of questions here.

The rule about "H" depends on pronunciation/aspiration. If you say "a historic occasion," just be aware that there will be a subset of people who will snicker because they think you don't understand their misunderstood/pedantically distorted rule.

As to capitalization of schools of thought, it seems to vary -- I'd follow the relevant journal if you're seeking to publish -- but I see "liberal" usually in lower case, ditto realist. Practices also vary as to how much adherents to a school get called, e.g., "liberals" -- realists clearly get that treatment. Simply follows the same convention.

The real head-scratcher for me: were you right to say "which ARE right" in the instance of paired, symmetrical disjunctives?
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 7:06 AM on October 18, 2007


A hegemon.

Also, don't ask a bunch of unrelated questions in AskMe.
posted by languagehat at 7:30 AM on October 18, 2007


"An hegemon or a hegemon?"

As noted above, it depends upon aspiration. I can imagine a cockney saying "an 'egemon," but otherwise it's simple "a hegemon." And, while "an historic..." is silly when aspirated, I've also been repeatedly somewhat surprised every time I've witnessed someone from England intoning about "a herb garden," with the h aspirated.

You can capitalize however you want. If you're Thomas Hobbes, and you write a lot of important words, capitalize every one that you think is better than "the" or "of."

As to your fourth question, no.
posted by koeselitz at 7:50 AM on October 18, 2007


"School of thought" is slightly too vague a concept for cut and dry rules, but it's been my observation that "movements" -- especially the ones with manifestoes -- are generally capitalized, to distinguish them from mere styles. Someone could be a realist while not being a Realist: the capitalization in the latter implies that the person explicitly subscribes to that school of thought; the former person simply displays similar qualities. Group vs. individual seems to have no bearing on whether it's capitalized.

But again, that's just my observation (after six years of art school). Grain of salt.
posted by Reggie Digest at 8:25 AM on October 18, 2007


Also, don't ask a bunch of unrelated questions in AskMe.

Questions about English constructions are unrelated? Are you suggesting that oxford blue wait another four weeks to resolve his problem?
posted by Neiltupper at 10:30 AM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Questions about English constructions are unrelated?

Yes. Aspiration in hegemon has nothing whatever to do with the rules of capitalization.

Are you suggesting that oxford blue wait another four weeks to resolve his problem?

You mean another week (there are only two questions), but yes. That's what the rest of us do when we have multiple questions to ask. I didn't make the rules, I'm just pointing them out.
posted by languagehat at 11:04 AM on October 18, 2007


Oxford Blue, these and other . . . er, related questions are, practically speaking, questions of style rather than questions with a single, absolute answer provided by a single, prescriptive grammar authority (should one even exist these days). Which is not to say that folks still take the answers quite seriously.

You will be safe in almost any company if you get your answers to these questions from the current (15th) edition of the Chicago Manual of Style. It's the style used by a plurality of publishers in academia and nonfiction, and alternative styles (MLA style, AP style, etc.) are not so much competitors as alternatives addressing more specialized uses of language.
posted by gum at 11:32 AM on October 18, 2007


American newscasters love to say "an historic," which probably makes more people say it that way.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:38 AM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


The real head-scratcher for me: were you right to say "which ARE right" in the instance of paired, symmetrical disjunctives?

I suspect I can't (it sounds wrong, doesn't it?), but after a day of writing I was feeling a little fried. But I appreciate the benefit of the doubt.

Thanks everyone for your help!
posted by oxford blue at 4:03 PM on October 18, 2007


Also, the small-l/big-L liberal differentiation is very important in Australia where the Liberal party is actually the more conservative of the two major parties (they not different enough, unfortunately).
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 6:38 PM on October 19, 2007


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