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Does it mean that one can choose a/an depending on ... it should be OK for somebody that pronounces it "urb"?

I'm curious where you live or come from that "erb" would be unthinkable. I'm from Maine (USA). I always heard ... largely a case of people conforming to spelling. Unlike you, i can hardly imagine myself writing or saying "a herb".

I'm not British, but that's the English I learned in high school back in the 1970s. Therefore, , not . It is curious to note that in Bulgaria, the Soviet Union's lap-dog, we were taught British English, while at the same time, the Big Brothers were learning American.
Not that we need to go by dictionary documentations. They need to go by us. They each seem to have polled different people. No one ever polled me.

I'm still struggling with that concept. Totalitarian upbringing dies hard, you know. After all, why should a bunch of incompetents (about 50% with an IQ of 100 or less ;-) dictate the way language is? Isn't that better left to a group of academics, who know what's good for everybody?
Oh, by the way:

Yeah, typical. On a trip with my daughter to her college, we stopped at a Subway shop in Pennsylvania for a bite, and I ordered the bread with herbs. She was mortified at my mistake, while I was annoyed at her growing up in the States and still not knowing English. On arrival, we checked the dictionary, and to our surprise, we were right. Emotion: wink
Elko Tchernev wrote about descriptive dictionaries: I'm still struggling with that concept.
Totalitarian upbringing dies hard, you know.
After all, why should a bunch of incompetents
(about 50% with an IQ of 100 or less ;-) dictate
the way language is? Isn't that better left to
a group of academics, who know what's good for
everybody?
It might help to consider that the compilers use
written sources, and prefer quality (edited)
publications. That shifts things up quite a bit.
Now that there is a vast body of searchable text
on the internet (but mostly unedited text),
that may shift down a bit. I wonder what the
compilers are doing about that did they invent
another tag besides 'variant' or 'also', or are
there just more "also"s now?
Richard Maurer To reply, remove half
Sunnyvale, California of a homonym of a synonym for also.
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Elko Tchernev wrote about descriptive dictionaries: I'm still struggling with that concept. Totalitarian upbringing dies hard, you know. After all, ... doing about that did they invent another tag besides 'variant' or 'also', or are there just more "also"s now?

In fact, the major descriptivist dictionaries (with the possible exception of the OED, see below) have always been interested in identifying what usages belong to the standard dialect of English of the country in which the dictionary is published, because that's why people consult (and thus, buy) dictionaries, to ensure that they conform their usage to standard usage. Standard dialects are those used by the educated speakers of a country.
Regional and nonstandard usages are a separate matter, and thus receive much less attention in major descriptive dictionaries. If you take a close look at *The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language," 4th ed., for example, you'll see that its editors paid much less attention to British English usages than did, for example, the editors of *Merriam-Webster's Collegiate.*
A slang dictionary is another type of descriptive dictionary, of course. A slang dictionary would tend to contain either more slang words than would M-W Collegiate (or some other major dictionary), or its editors would have examined more closely the usage of a particular subgroup which uses the slang about which the dictionary is reporting. Another thing to consider is that the people who consult a slang dictionary are rarely trying to conform their usage to that described in such a dictionary, but are usually simply trying to understand unfamiliar words.
The ultimate descriptivist dictionary, of course, is the *Oxford English Dictionary,* the founders of which, who wished to make an accurate historical record of English usages, intended to avoid any editorializing about language.

Raymond S. Wise
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
E-mail: mplsray @ yahoo . com
That is an untenable position. The (h)-sounded version of "herb" ... in question as substandard, or, for that matter, even nonstandard.

I think you place too much faith in dictionaries. What you'd really have to do is do a survey of AmE speakers and ask them whether they thought that /hRb/ was "wrong".

Responses would be mixed depending on a variety of factors. Some people believe their usages are "right" and others "wrong". I'm sure many of the "****" minority would say "erb" is "wrong" (maybe fans of Child or Stewart). Better would be to survey personal usage, and perhaps also ask people what they hear more.
In this context, M-W defines "nonstandard" as "not conforming in pronunciation, grammatical constructuon, idiom, or word choice to the usage generally characteristic if the educated native speakers of a language." They define "substandard" as "conforming to a pattern of linguistic usage existing within a speech community but not that of the prestige group in that community." Their Dictionary of English Usage qualifies the latter by saying that it suggests usage by the "least educated", but that it also tends to reflect the view of the commentator.
Taking the above as a guide (if this is acceptable to you), the "****" pronunciation is neither nonstandard nor substandard. It seems to have nothing to do with education level. It's simply new here, much as it was once elsewhere - which is not to say that it's future is a foregone conclusion.
Designating usages "nonstandard" or "substandard" can be simplistic or false/misleading, or both. They carry judgmental overtones in the minds of most, almost as if to suggest "incorrect" or "wrong". I wish we could get past these notions. I would rather adopt the words "majority" and "minority". These should be qualified with percentage estimates and analyses of influences, demographics, etc.

Consider the implications of calling a growing minority usage "substandard" (under seige by correctarians who would like to nip it in the bud) then some years later calling it "standard" after people who ignore such judgments become the majority. The poor chumps who meritoriously held to the standard (didn't conform to a supposed substandard usage) are then a minority (or maybe "eccentric") class using "substandard" English, while the intractable nonconformists (who dismissed the standard) and their wishy-washy followers are now the purveyors the accepted standard - as with "herb" in UK and elsewhere.
ER Lyon
Elko Tchernev wrote about descriptive dictionaries: I'm still struggling with that concept. Totalitarian upbringing dies hard, you know. After all, ... dictate the way language is? Isn't that better left to a group of academics, who know what's good for everybody?

It's not that documenting actual usage will allow "incompetents" to dictate the way language is. What dictates our usage is our choices. We are free to conform to grammarian rules, or to ignore, bend, or defy them. We are free to emulate literary and educated writers, or to flow with the speech of the streets and backwater villages - or both.

Dictionaries at best are not perfect or complete reflections of language. I use them to get hints about what people mean by the words they use. If their documentation of the use of language is skewed by omission or correction of words people use or meanings they intend, using dictionaries will skew my understanding of the language, unless i'm careful.
It might help to consider that the compilers use written sources, and prefer quality (edited) publications. That shifts things up quite a bit.

Yes. I think it's valuable to recognize this. Although imperfect, standard dictionaries are most valuable as reading aids, and for checking whether a word usually means what we intend in writing. I don't think they should be taken (a they are by many) as the last word or ultimate authority on language.
Now that there is a vast body of searchable text on the internet (but mostly unedited text), that may shift ... doing about that did they invent another tag besides 'variant' or 'also', or are there just more "also"s now?

Merriam-Webster told me once (i've written to their Language Research Service often) that their use of intenet writing is limited. I'd like to see internet usage documented in dictionaries. Perhaps future dictionaries could differentiate sources of usage information and what they show.
ER Lyon
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
How do dictionary editors decide "standard" pronunciation? I assume, but without knowledge, that a large-scale authoritative dictionary would rely on ... It would be interesting to know whether it's a regional difference or something else - social, educational . . .

I sure wish i had a good answer to this. I suspect that a lot of their information comes from sound media. They may use "expert consultants". I don't think they have teams of researchers running around everywhere doing copious detailed personal serveys and listen-ins. This is another question to send to M-W's Language Research Service.

ER Lyon
I have a question about the US pronunciation of "an erb". On the few occasions that I, in the UK, ... not flow in the same way that "an urban " frequently does. Is this real or am I imagining it?

I don't know. People talk all different ways. There are gradations, i'm sure, but i haven't particularly noted either a one-word slur or a glottal stop.
ER Lyon
Now i'm going to be hyperconscious whenever any of these come up.

Is that going to make you a hyperconscious person or an... ?

"A" for me because "hy-" is accented. But neither, because i take it rather lightly.
This thread has got me like trying to analyse how I walk - think about it too much and I'll fall over.

And if you try out all the choices enough, they all sound okay...

ER Lyon
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
Maybe so, but Google shows 107,000,000 for "Hispanic" and 85,300,000 for "Latino".

That's just the males. There's another 144,000,000 for "Latina". I get equal results for "Hispanics" and "Latinos", FWLTW.

My understanding is that "Latinos" is sometimes used to refer to Brazilians along with Spanish Latin Americans (or of those origins).

When i was typing the word "Hispanic" a little thought warned me it would send the thread off on this tangent. I intended to start a new thread about the word before that happened. I will anyway.

ER Lyon
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