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398               Concerning the American Language
English Dictionary, so it was proper enough that it should stick to English forms, perhaps. It still calls itself an English Dictionary to-day, but it has quietly ceased to pronounce ' basket' as if it were spelt bahsket. In the American language the h is respected; the h is not dropped or added improperly."
" The same is the case in England — I mean among the educated classes, of course."
" Yes, that is true; but a nation's language is a very large matter. It is not simply a manner of speech ob­taining among the educated handful; the manner obtaining among the vast uneducated multitude must be considered also. Your uneducated masses speak English, you will not deny that; our uneducated masses speak American — it won't be fair for you to deny that, for you can see, yourself, that when your stable-boy says, ' It isn't the 'unting that 'urts the 'orse, but the 'ammer, 'ammer, 'ammer on the 'ard 'ighway,' and our stable-boy makes the same remark without suffocating a single //, these two people are manifestly talking two different languages. But if the signs are to be trusted, even your educated classes used to drop the h. They say humble, now, and heroic, and historic, etc., but I judge that they used to drop those h's because your writers still keep up the fashion of putting an before those words, instead of a. This is what Mr. Darwin might call a ' rudimentary ' sign that an an was justifiable once, and useful — when your educated classes used to say 'tnnble, and 'eroic, and historical. Correct writers of the American language do not put an before those words."
The English gentleman had something to say upon this matter, but never mind what he said — I'm not arguing his case. I have him at a disadvantage, now. I proceeded:
" In England you encourage an orator by exclaiming