Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Historic Purchase

Amazing! I've finally used my Gap gift certificate from 1997. Bought myself a black knit scarf.

My aunt and uncle gave me this $27 gift certificate for my birthday in '97. But I never shop at the Gap — everything's so expensive, and I don't like most of it anyway. This winter, though, I've noticed the increasing popularity of scarves. What with the Gap being expensive, $27 will only buy something like a scarf. So I picked up a simple black scarf, with knitted cables.

I'd never owned a scarf before, and was pleasantly surprised to find how much of a difference it makes in how cold I feel. No more chilly wind running down my neck!

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5 comments:

fake name said...

Good thing that gift certificates don't have an expiration date in California. :-)

Black, huh? How boring.

Giynlith said...

You bought a black knit scar?

You bought a black knit scar?

You bought a black knit scar?!

Make one yourself! Bah humbug!

Arthaey said...

Buy a scar? What a silly notion. ;)

But seriously. I had that $27 gift certificate since 1997! Nothing but socks, gloves, hats, and scarves are in that price range at the Gap. Of those things, I like scarves best. And I'm lazy/busy, so if I wait until I make myself a scarf, it'll be too warm to wear it when it's done. :P

Giynlith said...

Looking at that title, shouldn't it be "An Historic Purchase"? ;)

Arthaey said...

Actually, no. "A" is correct. English uses "an" before a vowel sound. (Note that it's before a vowel sound, not a vowel letter.) Some English words beginning with an "h" (like "honor" or "hour") actually begin with a vowel sound, despite the spelling. However, in most(?) other cases, the "h" is pronounced, and "a" is the appropriate indefinite article.

Paul Brians has a list of common errors in English, including "a" versus "an" before "historic". He mentions, without commentary, that some people use "an" anyway.

My thought is that this is probably a hypercorrection, made by educated people who have learned that some h-inital words use "an" before them, and then over-extend the usage to h-initial words that do not actually start with a vowel sound. Wikipedia's second definition of hypercorrection explains it well: "usage that many informed users of a language consider incorrect but that the speaker or writer uses through misunderstanding of prescriptive rules, often combined with a desire not to come across as informal or uneducated."

Of course, if you spoke a dialect that dropped the initial [h] sound in "historic," I would expect you to use "an" before it. On the other hand, I know you have the same dialect as me, so you can't use that as an excuse. ;)