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#2466 - 05/16/00 12:12 PM An hotel
shanks Offline
old hand

Registered: 03/16/00
Posts: 1004
Loc: London, UK
At the railway station today the new 'computerised' announcement was apologising for the usual delays, and spoke of 'the oh nine hundred' train. Except, the 'the' was pronounced 'the', and not 'thee' (if you've kept up with this so far, you're doing better than I am).

This set me to thinking that it was likely that English will become more and more regularised with the advent of computer-simulated speech and writing. The irregularities of the language (pronouncing it 'thee' before a vowel sound) will be smoothed out in order to make the software less cumbersome.

Which led to the idea that they would probably still respect the more obvious irregularity in the indefinite article - of using 'an' instead of 'a' before a vowel sound. At least for now.

This thought led me yet further, to one of the (apparently defunct) irregularities whose passing I mourn - the phrase 'an hotel'. I have always used it, and even recommended its use in various style-guides etc that our company issues (in which I have a hand), but one of our staff quoted an up-to-date Fowler (or something similar) to me, which said that it was a stodgy archaism and not in general use, and further, not recommended business language. Ever since, with some reluctance, I have tried to write, and pronounce, it 'a hotel', but it grates.

Do any of you have an opinion on this one? What do you think is the best usage today? (And, just to try to make my entire long story relevant - any thoughts on the regularisation of English because of the need for streamlined software?)

cheer

the sunshine warrior


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#2467 - 05/16/00 02:14 PM Re: An hotel
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10521
Loc: this too shall pass
just to complicate things further (not farther), I'm going to rail(!) against your initial example:

'the oh nine hundred' train

I'm going to assume that this is numerically the 0900 and not alpha-numerically the O900 and therefore should be read as the 'zero nine hundred' train. sorry... just another of my innumerable pet peeves.

http://members.aol.com/tsuwm/

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#2468 - 05/16/00 02:48 PM Re: An hotel
GZini Offline
stranger

Registered: 05/05/00
Posts: 19
Loc: Washington, DC, USA
Of course, if we're going to be completely pure about things, should the zero even be there?

And why the "hundred" after the nine? Certainly, the two zeros don't signify one hundred in a 60-minute system.

They could just say "9 o'clock am" and be done with it; that's what my voice mail does, and it's automated.


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#2469 - 05/16/00 04:12 PM Re: An hotel
jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
The problem with "an hotel" is that is assumes that people use the RP pronnunciation of 'otel, as lots of people these days say hotel with a "hu" it doesn't work so well.

I've noticed it is often still written an hotel but pronounced uh hotel with a "h", just to complicate things even further.

I don't know why the trains say oh nine hundred hours, must be a military throwback. I'm sure someone will know.

I would never say nine o'clock am - the "o'clock" is redundant - its nine am, surely???


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#2470 - 05/16/00 05:56 PM Re: An hotel
Philip Davis Offline
journeyman

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 81
I suppose if you're telling the time with a sundial the o'clock would not only be redundent but incorrect.
As another example of idiosyncratic usage with regards to telling the time my mother always gives 9.25 as "five and twenty past nine" rather than "twenty five past nine".

I do wonder what the problem is that people have with variety in speech. If we can accept the vast number of synonyms that exist in english why is it difficult to accept that an 'otel and a hotel are simple variants. Personally I can live with, and enjoy, almost all of the variations of english.



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#2471 - 05/17/00 12:48 AM Re: An hotel
kummini Offline
stranger

Registered: 03/14/00
Posts: 18
Loc: Bangalore, India
Hello.

As technology comes into the common man's life, a large number of things will be standardised, be it for good or not. Use of 'the' as /th(e)/ or /thi/ , and the indefinite articles, is an example.

On the other hand, software has reached a stage where it can afford to take the complications in language such as this to an extent.

As to regularising English: is it completely necessary? No one would say that a language, least of all Engilsh, can remain static. However, to use language as it is with software has become increasingly possible with the advance of technology, which would make the changes unnecessary. (Must not man rule the technology, and not the other way round?)

Regards,
Manoj

Bangalore India
1258' N, 7739' E

http://www.geocities.com/kummini/
_________________________
Bangalore India
1258' N, 7739' E

http://www.geocities.com/kummini/index.html

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#2472 - 05/17/00 03:24 AM Re: An hotel
jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
I agree with kummini, as technology progresses it can absorb complications in language.

I was on a train station the other day and noticed the announcement referred to in the initial posting. Essentially the announcement appears to be made by stringing together words and phrases recorded by a real person (I don't think it is an entirely simulated voice). It can then account for platform & timetable changes. The gaps between words are unusually regular but it is very clear. It isn't as bad as some of the "live" (and sometimes incomprehensible) individual announcements made in the past.
I think as time goes on they will probably be able to incorporate regional accents, different ways of saying things and more "ups an downs - musicality?" into the technology, so it will be less regularised.

Having read "Longtitude" - haven't trains always played a major part in standardisation - accepting a common time throughout a country (or time zone)?


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#2473 - 05/17/00 04:06 AM Re: An hotel
kummini Offline
stranger

Registered: 03/14/00
Posts: 18
Loc: Bangalore, India
>I was on a train station the other day and noticed the announcement referred to in the initial posting. Essentially the announcement appears to be made by stringing together words and phrases recorded by a real person (I don't think it is an entirely simulated voice).

Speech synthesis is done by concatenating phonemes one after another. I read somewhere that if phonemes are blindly concatenated, the resulting sound will not be natural, so, some modifications are required at the end of one phoneme and the beginning of the following one.

I think that railway announcements etc. will have the combinations of different variable values recorded and depending on the requirement, one of them will be used with the standard announcement. Otherwise, as <jmh> said, one would hear the standard parts of the announcement in one voice and the rest (time, platform no., etc.) in another.

Regards,
Manoj

Bangalore India
1258' N, 7739' E

http://www.geocities.com/kummini/
_________________________
Bangalore India
1258' N, 7739' E

http://www.geocities.com/kummini/index.html

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