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  5. "Det är en historisk dag."

"Det är en historisk dag."

Translation:It is a historic day.

November 20, 2014

69 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PennLesley

There has been lots of discussion about the difference between 'historic' and 'historical' on the BBC recently. Reporters are beginning to use the terms correctly again. 'historical' refers to any event or events that happened a while ago while 'historic' refers to an event or place that has left a mark on history.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LukeBarker1

I put "it is an historic day" - not sure if that is good english or not.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lundgren8

Plenty of native English speakers would say and write it so it should be accepted. People are here to learn Swedish, not to learn English prescriptive grammar. :) I think it’s accepted for the Spanish course.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LukeBarker1

thanks, certainly it is a common ay of saying it in UK


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Synthpopalooza

It's the pronunciation. Americans pronounce the "h", a lot of English do not. Therefore the "an" comes before the silent h.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MichaelO-J

Actually, lots of British people pronounce the 'h' is historic. Not pronouncing it is not seen as standard British English. It sounds really weird to me.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Macsmells

"'tis n istorik day init blud" is kinda far from grammatically correct but I can see it being said in certian dialects.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ErixTheRed

It is not standard in any English to say "an historic". It's fine for duo to accept it, but it really shouldn't be what they use when they provide the word bank.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IanCaliban

And to me.

I have never heard a British person say an historic and use a silent h. In my experience, it's an American phenomenon. It sounds completely wrong to my British ears.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devalanteriel

It's actually a natural phenomenon called H-dropping, and it's been a feature of certain English dialects for a very long time. But since it's mainly prevalent in working-class accents, it's also typically very much frowned upon by people in higher social classes. Cockney is the typical English example - some variants of it drop virtually every single initial h. My Fair Lady is chock-full of it - and Wiktionary even has an appendix dedicated to 'omophones that occur in H-dropping dialects:

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Appendix:English_dialect-dependent_homophones#H-dropping

So it's definitely a real thing - but it doesn't occur everywhere, so it's quite easy as a native English speaker to go one's entire life without hearing it. :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IanCaliban

My observation is that the dropping of the h in speech isn't always directly related to the choice of an.

I worked in the East End of London for several years and witnessed a lot of dropped h's. Sometimes, this was paired with the non-standard use of an, but not always.

For example, I heard a 'orrible day as much as an 'orrible day.

The dropped Cockney h seems to be natural and born of expedience, whereas the dropped h in the US, on the other hand, often appears to be a deliberate affectation. This is very much a person by person thing, however.

It's interesting that one instance of the dropped h is seen as lower class, whilst others apparently employ it in an attempt to distinguish themselves by elevation.

An interesting discussion, anyway.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devalanteriel

It very much is, and I absolutely agree that it can vary quite a lot on a personal basis. Funnily enough, the best example I've found in popular media is probably Willie Garvin, who exhibits dialectally correct h-dropping which is also pattern-consistent across books and comics. :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BillofKempsey

The same point arose in the Dutch course. You and the people there are correct, of course. We are not here to learn English. It is still annoying when correct English is not accepted.

By the way, the Dutch course got it wrong - at the time at least - and you have got it right.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/daisythebelle

Native english speaker here! "an historic" is technically the "most correct" however very few people use it day to day. Most likely used in academic writing and official documents.

But like everyone else has said, don't worry about english if you're here to learn swedish! You're already doing an incredible job!! ♡


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ErixTheRed

I'd love to see a source saying "an" is technically correct. It is only correct if you don't pronounced the H. Any dictionary I check gives the H in the pronunciation guide.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/daisythebelle

Dictionaries go out of date as soon as they are published. No one person or one thing is infallible. As a descriptivist linguist, I subscribe to the idea that there is no "correct way" to use language. Language is a tool for communication, as long as meaning is communicated, it doesn't matter how the tool is used. The argument over what is "right or wrong" is almost arbitrary. If we spent too much time worrying about "correct" English we would still be speaking Old English. But that didn't happen. And it never would happen. Because people are innovative and creative, and change the ""rules" of language to more effectively use it as a tool.

Of course, when learning a foreign language, we must learn some rules, so that we can use the tool effectively. However, such an argument over "an vs a historic" is pointless. While both are perfectly acceptable uses (source: I am English, study linguistics, studied English Language, other native English speakers) both convey the exact same meaning, and the decision to use either "an" or "a" is purely aesthetic, and therefore it is unnecessary to discuss this topic further.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Zmrzlina

Preach! I agree completely.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BillofKempsey

Absolutely! There is nothing more to be said. Therefore I am unfollowing the discussion.

But not before giving you a lingot.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IanCaliban

It's only "unnecessary to discuss this topic further" if we accept your subscription to "the idea that there is no 'correct way' to use language" as fact.

Fact, however, it isn't. It's merely your own very modern point of view, which represents a minority stance in the world of language teaching. That hardly seems like grounds for curtailing further discussion.

You also contradict yourself when you then say "when learning a foreign language, we must learn some rules, so that we can use the tool effectively." Why must we learn rules, if we have already determined that "there is no 'correct way' to use language" ? There can be no rules if there is no correct way. And if there are rules, compliance with them must imply correctness, and non-compliance incorrectness.

Linguistic prescription is not at odds with the evolution of language, but it does go some way towards preserving heritage and order. It's also highly debatable whether every change to the language, conscious or evolutionary, can be said to represent a quantifiable instance of people being able to "more effectively use it as a tool". Plenty of changes involve simplification, which, whilst often beneficial, can also introduce ambiguity, for example.

Here are two sources for you, one British and one American, that both firmly recommend the use of a historic over an historic. By definition, they are prescriptive, of course, so presumably carry no weight with you. Nevertheless, others may find them useful.

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/usage/a-historic-event-or-an-historic-event

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/a-historic-vs-an-historic/

Here's a third, less prescriptive source to provide some balance. This one subscribes to the notion that a particular usage can be "sufficiently common to be considered correct".

http://www.betterwritingskills.com/tip-w005.html


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Fantomius

I read once that before a voiced "H" both a and an are correct. (Unfortunately, I don't remember where I read that.)

If it helps, I once heard Leonard Nimoy say "an humble family."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Fiona383251

I am 62 and I am a source. This is what we learned in school as grammatically correct, although a little dated now. I am UK born and bred. It was also correct to say an hotel and not a hotel - read older books for this, for example. It is to do with the status of the letter h. Hope that helps.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JimLeonard0

an historic just seems wrong to me, but apparently it is not wrong. It would not occur to me to not pronounce the h.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IanWitham1

Americans say words as they are spelt. For instance, many of them pronounce the "w" in "sword", which no Briton does. They are taught they must only use "an" before words that begin with vowels. "H" is not a vowel so they always say and write "a hotel" and "a historic day". In British/English, if a word that begins with an "h" has a French origin the upper classes say and write it in the French way without an "h", and therefore put "an" in front of it. I have lost so many hearts by writing correct English that I now use Americanisms even if they sound awful to me.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IanCaliban

It's more complicated than that, I'm afraid.

I'm a Briton who lived in the US for 5 years, and I regularly heard atrocities such as an 'uman tragedy and an historic day from people in my direct environment.

I'm also married to a woman who refers to cooking with an 'erb on an almost daily basis, as do all of her American friends.

It's an 'orrible way to speak, but there you have it.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gray_Roze

Regarding "herb," the original English word did not even have an h in it, and even when it was later added, it was a silent letter, just like the h in "hour." Only in the 19th century did Brits begin to pronounce the h in "herb," so it's more arguable that your pronunciation of it is the issue.

However, language naturally evolves over time, so your pronunciation of "herb" is just as valid as the singular "you," which also used to be incorrect.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ludovica1964

an historic day is the correct form.. it may seem a little archaic to you but we (in England) were always taught to use "an" before hostel, hotel and hospital as well, a hang-over from Norman French, not an "atrocity" at all


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devalanteriel

Ian is British, as he clearly mentions in his post. Please see my reply to you in the other thread where you wrote: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/6313415


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ludovica1964

It is AN historic day is the only correct answer. Historic always takes "an" in UK English at least


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MichaelO-J

As a speaker of British English, I say thee nay. 'An historic' is a crime against civilised speech.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PennLesley

"An historic" although used less often now is correct. 'An' can be used before aspirated polyphonic words beginning with h. I would use it but perhaps I'm a bit older than duolingo's average learner.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dragon200380

It should be... an ...historic day, one of English's little exceptions.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devalanteriel

Either is fine. Usage varies. Please refer to the (many) above discussions.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/K.Odam
  • 1322

'A' versus 'an': much argument, one way or the other, but complicated by the word 'ahistoric' which means Not Historic.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MikkoLaine81

Couldn't or shouldn't this be: "Den är en historisk dag"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devalanteriel

Swedish defaults to det for the general "it" whenever the subject hasn't been encountered yet in the sentence.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheDreadPirateM

"... an historic day" still gets marked as a typo... :/ (but correct)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MichaelO-J

In the words of the belovéd Eddie Izzard, 'because there's a f**king 'h' in it'.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheDreadPirateM

I thought about it for a hour, and was swayed by such eloquent reasoning. Truly it has been a honour.

Also, there's no acute accent on 'beloved' (if it must be stressed, orthography dictates it should be a grave accent), but being a novelist and a speaker of British English, I am sure this is merely a typographical error resulting from the use of your mobile telephonic device.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devalanteriel

Regarding the question at hand, I'm not sure why it shows a typo notice. Using "an historic" has been accepted for a long time.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheDreadPirateM

It's definitely an oddity, since there are plenty of comments going back stating that it's accepted. At least it only marks it as a typo rather than incorrect, so a minor quibble really.

Honestly, the best part is how many people get worked up (on either side) in the comment thread...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devalanteriel

I'd probably agree if I wasn't moderating it...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Deio251646

A and An -- is a vexed question for many English speakers and prescriptive rules in English are not always useful, so the best thing to do, is to accept both in this position and not tell native speakers of an 'English' that they have a typo! "A history lecture on an historical event", is possible and a natural thing to say or write for many speakers of English. Tack så mycket


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devalanteriel

Yes? What's your question, please? :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/littleporo1

Oh, sorry I'm not a native English speaker, so I was wondering if it was historic day or historical day. I looked it up, they both work. Slightly different meaning but both proper English.

Have a noot noot day!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devalanteriel

Yep, that's correct. Noot noot!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Annebags

I remember the English grammar lesson at school regarding 'a' v 'an' followed by an 'h' word. The teacher said that it is a throw back to the French invasion, which makes sense. She also said that it is used in writing, 'an hotel, an honour, an historic' but not always necessary in speech or it feels awkward. In the case of 'a historic' v 'an historic day', I would say 'an historic day', because the 'h' is not as strong as the 'h' in e.g., hand, horse, high.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/the.pyat

In america using an for historic is pretty dadgum rare, but then those who don't know it's proper british probably aren't learning Swedish anyway.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nick23635

a historic day surely! not historical day as i was given


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devalanteriel

Both work in different ways, but "historic" is the default. Unfortunately, Duolingo isn't smart enough to always show you the default.


[deactivated user]

    Comment from my husband, a novelist: For anyone interested in a fine point of English language, it should always be "an historic day". This is independent of considerations concerning dropped aitches in speech. The day, being historic, demands emphasis - otherwise it would not be worthy of being called "historic". And so that emphasis is provided by the use of "an".


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devalanteriel

    If that is how your husband wishes to use it, that's obviously perfectly fine. But correct usage is largely dependent on region and sociolect. It has very little to do with emphasis, if anything.


    [deactivated user]

      My husband saw your reply and just laughed. He thinks someone has missed the point.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devalanteriel

      Possibly. He's free to explain what point I missed instead of laughing at me if he wishes to come across a tad more nicely.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MichaelO-J

      As a novelist, I thoroughly disagree. One says 'history' with 'h', so to say 'an 'istoric' is just daft, and to say 'an historic' with an audible 'h' would be a crime against the English language.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Amanda.Zanon

      Can you guys put "historiak" as a typo if possible? :(((


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Zmrzlina

      No, us course contributors don't control that, it's the course format hardcode. I'm sorry.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FNB6a

      The correct grammar should be 'an historian'


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devalanteriel

      "an historian" is a person who works with history. Saying that a day is an historian makes no sense.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Q_C

      Who says "an historic"?


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HaroldWonh

      I would always say "an historic" and "an hotel", and pronounce the "h". It may be illogical, but it's standard British English.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IanCaliban

      An hotel? What part of the British Isles are you from? I've never heard that before in my life.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HaroldWonh

      Born in Birmingham, grew up in Kent, spent most of my teaching years in Staffordshire, now resident in Hampshire. "An hotel" is normal and correct standard British English, with the "h" sounded.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IanCaliban

      Thanks for replying.

      I've exclusively heard a historic in the UK and occasionally an istoric in the US, but I don't think I've heard the particular combination of an with a voiced h in historic anywhere before.

      Hotel is a word I can't recall ever having heard in combination with an, either with a voiced or a silent h.

      As far as I can recollect, I've never seen any voiced h word in combination with an printed in the British media, either.

      My own background is that I grew up in Cornwall and later moved to London. I moved to Amsterdam in my twenties and later spent five years in the US before moving back to Amsterdam.

      I'll google this phenomenon, as I've always believed an in combination with a voiced h to be incorrect. I also always chuckle when my American wife renders the h silently in herb, which sounds absurd to me.

      I'm old enough that I still strongly believe that prescription has a place in language teaching. There frequently is a right way and a wrong way, both with spelling and grammar and, to a lesser extent, pronunciation.

      I certainly don't subscribe to the general notion of following the masses when the lowest common denominator is known to be incorrect, either for expediency, or to avoid detection as a foreigner or false identification as a snob (which is what often happens in the UK).


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Samir61775

      a historic day .. an is used with words which begins with vocals ; a - o -u - e-i.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JorneLaton

      More correctly, "an" is used in front of words where you hear a vowel in the beginning, while "a" is used when you hear a consonant.

      With a, o, e and i, it's indeed simple: it is always "an". an apple, an orange, an e-mail, an idea However, "u" can take to shapes: it can be either [ju] or [uh]. a union [ju] an umpire [uh]

      The letter "h" in front is a ambiguous, because it may sound like something in the middle of a vowel and a consonant, hence the confusion. In French for instance, they do not pronounce it at all. Apparently, the convention is English is that you can use both.

      If you are using abbreviations where the letters are distinctly pronounced like in the alphabet, you have to think how the first letter is pronounced. Some consonants are pronounced with a leading vowel, namely F, L, M, N, R and S. These follow the same rule and get "an", since you hear a vowel. an LSD addict, an NBA player, an STD But of course: a NATO employee, since NATO is not pronounced letter per letter


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/je-sa

      Check please the answer in English...it must say "a" historic. It says "an" historic which is not correct.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HaroldWonh

      "An historic" is perfect for British English. It is like "an hotel" - both anomalies, but both perfectly correct and in regular use. "A historic" sounds terribly awkward and unnatural to my English ear!

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