Sunday, November 30, 2008

Choosing the wrong article

Not long ago, the wife bought a set of Christmas CDs. Each disk represents a different style of music, and my eye was caught by the cover art of the rhythm-and-blues disk.

I'm not really a prescriptivist, but the choice between "a" and "an" is pretty clearly determined by the sound of the word or letter following it, not the letter itself. As such, this collection of Christmas tunes should have been titled "An R&B Christmas" instead.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to claim the world is coming to an end over such small errors in English, but I always thought the distinction between "a" and "an" was rather instinctive with native speakers. Perhaps I'm mistaken, or perhaps this CD was manufactured in some place where English is not the primary or preferred language.

Yep, I was right. I just checked. This CD was made in Quebec.

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