George Bernard Shaw once said:
“It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman despise him”
Shaw, an Irish man, was to some extent poking fun at the English, but there certainly is some truth in his statement. English speakers have been complaining about the way other people speak English for very long. The same is probably true of other languages.
One of the things people complain about is the dropping of certain letters, such as the initial h, or of the g in ing endings. This is getting things the wrong way round and assuming that we should speak as we write. English spelling certainly isn’t the most reliable guide to English pronunciation. Initial h’s aren’t being dropped – they just doesn’t exist in some dialects.
Words borrowed from French, such as hour, heir and honest are usually pronounced without the initial h most varieties of English. Moreover, in American English herb also lacks the initial h sound, though the h is pronounced in some varieties of British English.
This post was inspired by the book I’m reading at the moment: ‘A Plum in Your Mouth’ – Why the way we talk speaks volumes about us, by Andrew Taylor.