Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A historic election

I don't think I've ever posted about politics on this blog before (that's what twitter and fb are for) but last night was a historic one in America.

The United States re-elected President Barack Hussein Obama for his second term as the 44th President of the United States of America.

WA State voted to legalize gay marriage. (this makes me so happy, more than I can even express)

So did Maine, Maryland and Minnesota.

We ushered in a historic number of female US Senators, including Maria Cantwell from WA State. The 113th Congress will have at least 19 female senators, the most ever in U.S. history.

Colorado and Washington State legalized marijuana for recreational use.

I had a very good night celebrating with the WA Dems as the Westin in Seattle, just as I did four years ago. However, I can empathize with people who do not believe in what I believe in and who didn't support the people and initiatives I voted for. They are probably not having a very good day today.

While I was driving to the store on my lunch break yesterday afternoon, I thought quietly to myself, what if Mitt Romney does get elected tonight and Washington rejects marriage equality?  It made me achingly sad. Think happier thoughts I told myself. I'm proud of you, America.

 Just for fun, the rule on "an historic" or "a historic" from the OED.

A historic event or an historic event?

People often believe that they should use the indefinite article an in front of words like historic, horrific, or hotel. Are they right or wrong? Should you say ‘an historic event’ or ‘a historic event’? 
An is the form of the indefinite article that is used before a spoken vowel sound: it doesn’t matter how the written word in question is actually spelled. So, we say ‘an honour’, ‘an hour’, or ‘an heir’, for example, because the initial letter ‘h’ in all three words is not actually pronounced. By contrast we say ‘a hair’ or ‘a horse’ because, in these cases, the ‘h’ is pronounced.

Let’s go back to those three words that tend to cause problems: historic, horrific, and hotel. If hotel was pronounced without its initial letter ‘h’ (i.e. as if it were spelled ‘otel’), then it would be correct to use an in front of it. The same is true of historic and horrific. If horrific was pronounced ‘orrific’ and historic was pronounced ‘istoric’ then it would be appropriate to refer to ‘an istoric occasion’ or ‘an orrific accident’. In the 18th and 19th centuries, people often did pronounce these words in this way.

Today, though, these three words are generally pronounced with a spoken ‘h’ at the beginning and so it’s now more logical to refer to ‘a hotel’, ‘a historic event’, or ‘a horrific accident’.

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