"Ann an taigh-òsta."
Translation:In a hotel.
So you say a hour? As my graph above shows, an hotel was more popular until the 1930s. My grandmother (born 1891) always called it an hotel and probably wrote it as an hôtel as it was still regarded as a French word. The English word is hostel. It was the French who took the s out and put the ^ in to show where the s used to be. Now we don't even bother with te ^.
There are two predicates in your syllogism and you discreetly ignored one of them. The first is what the rule is for using an, which I for one think you have stated correctly. But the other is whether the h in hotel is silent or not. This needs to be considered for your answer to work. As I accept your first part (which not everyone will) then the graph I have provided above proves that the h is now overwhelmingly a consonant. You will have to produce some evidence to counter what these dictionaries say
- Merriam-Webster (\hō-ˈtel, ˈhō-ˌtel\)
- Wiktionary (UK) IPA: /(h)əʊˈtɛl/ (US) enPR: hō-tĕlʹ, IPA: /hoʊˈtɛl/
- Usage notes: The UK pronunciation omitting the initial h is in imitation of the French hôtel and is now considered old-fashioned.
- Oxford Learner's Dictionaries /həʊˈtel/
- Cambridge English Dictionary UK /həʊˈtel/ US /hoʊˈtel/
- Collins Dictionary /hoʊtel/
I have discussed this word further on another question. D
I think part of the issue might be that -- in spoken English -- using "an" before "hotel" seems to cause the "h" to be silent... or at least swallowed. If you use "a" instead, it almost forces the "h" to be spoken. (Otherwise, it just sounds strange. :) I don't speak French, but I'm guessing the "h" is silent in French?
Well that made me think. I had always assumed it was the other way round - that the way you pronounce hotel would determine if you put a or an. But then that ignores what happens if you are trying to read the phrase. If you try to read an hotel but you normally pronounce the h, or vice versa, you will get stuck. Clearly these are going to trip you up when trying reading, and you may end up with something garbled.
And yes, the h and the s are silent in modern French - the ^ in hôtel represents the missing s. The old spelling was hostel, which of course we borrowed into English, before the h and the s became silent. It was also borrowed into Gaelic, as òsta, but as no words begin with an h in Gaelic (except very modern borrowings like heileacoptair), the h was lost completely.
In fact every initial h is silent in French. It's where we get hour and honour from, and the American pronunciation of herb. D