Although I haven’t written much on memes since 1976, I retain an interest sustained by those who have, such as Susan Blackmore and Daniel Dennett. There can be no doubt that memes exist, in the form of non-genetic cultural replicators. What is less clear is the extent to which they are subject to a form of Darwinian selection. Do some memes have greater survival value than other? Remember that the survival in question is not survival of the organism but survival of the replicator itself.
Can I just say, I hate “haitch”. Thank you for your time 😂
I’m American and have always heard it as Aitch. Never heard of the Haitch pronunciation until now..
H dropping used to be very common in working-class accents in England; I suspect the “haitch” pronunciation might have caught on as a result of people trying to adopt more upper-class speech patterns and making faulty inferences about them (i.e. hypercorrection).
I've been hearing people and correcting them since I was at school (South East England, 90s to 2000s). I noticed that those from poorer socio-economic backgrounds tend to use, 'Haitch'.
Aren't swear words how you've described the use of the word basically? Like when you can add fuck or fucking in any sentence and it still make sense with or without it, so its stupid. It makes swear words pointless and thus shouldnt be used. Also what constitutes a swear word? "Piss off" and "bugger off" have equal impact and meaning from logic alone yet piss off is seen as more severe and is a swear word because we have decided it to be so.
Haitch is long established in Australia as originally the routine Irish Catholic usage that has spread across lower educated communities.
I grew up on and around Boston, Massachusetts, and frequently heard the expression, Jesus H Christ, with the H pronounced as aitch. It didn’t seem to be blasphemous to my working class Catholic family at the time, but my brothers and I were well on our way to atheism, so maybe our house wasn’t representative of the larger neighborhood. My mom Helen, aka “Our Lady of Perpetual Motion,” was fond of using the expression when she dropped something or something broke like a glass or plate. I can still hear her momentary piercing screech bouncing off the walls. That’s probably why I have an especially loud voice and my oldest brother Jack became an opera singer.
I am convinced that memes do follow a Darwinian process. A good example are the dance crazes that become 'viral' (even the analogy is based on genetics). Generally there is a seminal performance that is shared and then emulated. Some people will do variations on the dance and the most popular modifications survive in the dances of other emulators.
To your example of language: the need for communication provides the environment for discourse. The survival of a 'turn of phrase' in that environment depends on what it does for the function of communication an both the transmit and receiving ends. The phrase might have an ascetic quality or it might be very powerful in providing a shorthand for complex ideas. It falls out of favour when something else does it better. In that sense (and this may seem backwards) the phrase is the phenotype of the message and survival depends on the net-efficiency of transmission. 'Haitch' might come into ascendency if it is deemed to be more ascetically pleasing but the counter-acting environmental pressure (without being pejorative about local dialects) will be provided by those that see it as signifying a lack of education. Which survives will be down to an arms race within the language. Does that accord with what you had in mind when you devised the term in The Selfish Gene?
Growing up in England in 90s, *everyone* around me called the letter “haitch”, so this just seemed normal to me. I noticed some older people omitted the leading h sound, and I assumed this was wrong or at least, the exception. It was only much later that someone explained to me that “aitch” is in fact supposed to be standard and “correct”.
So when did I notice the change? Well, it happened before I was born.
“Haitch” is certainly very common in Ireland. You might also hear “hetch”, depending on accent.
Is it "'erb" or "Herb?" It's "Herb" obviously, so why do the Americans get it wrong every time?
As a 'Protestant' child growing up in Australia I was taught to pronounce it as 'Aitch' and told not to use 'Haitch' because that was how the Catholics pronounced it with the implication that it was an uneducated use of language. It makes sense that this may have started in Ireland as Australia has a lot of people of Irish Catholic descent.
A little comment on ”basically”. In swedish we have a word ”liksom” where english uses um or er. But my wife noticed that though liksom has been forbidden in written swedish she now has to use such words in the short messaging on the phones not to sound bossy. So her idea about basically in english is that something like it is needed to make texts feel like talking. And one can’t write ”um” or ”er”!
According to the BBC in 2010, "Take the eighth letter of the alphabet, pronounce it haitch and then look for the slightly agonised look in some people's eyes.
One suggestion is that it touches on a long anxiety in English over the letter aitch. In the 19th Century, it was normal to pronounce hospital, hotel and herb without the h. Nowadays "aitch anxiety" has led to all of them acquiring a new sound, a beautifully articulated aitch at the beginning. America has perhaps hung on to its aitchless herb because it has less class anxiety attached to pronunciations.
However, the link between class, voice and status is not what it once was. Many of us are barely aware of how we say says or ate or what was once considered the right and proper way.
It marks a decline in class anxiety in speech; attitudes to accents and pronunciations have become much more relaxed."
Never heard "aitch" in Ireland, always "haitch". My parents and teachers used "haitch", they go back to the 1920's. And, while we're at it ... it's "a hotel", not "an 'otel"! :-)
It’s definitely been in Ireland for a long time. As for whether it is right or wrong, I tend to be descriptionist on this one.
Haitch is used by many people in Northern Ireland.
Often (jokingly or otherwise) used to distinguish between those from the Catholic or Protestant background from within NI by children/young people quizzing each other on whether they pronounce it Aitch or Haitch.