Poor Letter H

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  • Intro

    Towards the end of the 18th century, Received Pronunciation (RP) began to establish itself as the accent of the educated and aristocratic classes. It quickly became a desirable symbol of social advancement for the newly emerging middle classes. In the 19th century, elocution classes, instruction manuals and pamphlets, such as Poor Letter H, were extremely popular among lower-middle-class speakers keen to acquire this prestigious accent.

     

     

    On these pages

     

    This list assists those keen to avoid ‘dropping’ the ‘h’ sound in words such as ‘house’, a pronunciation still widespread, but stigmatised, in England and Wales. More than 150 years of desperately trying to avoid this social gaffe has had a profound effect, as we now consider humble, humour, humility and hospital to require a h sound. We now say herb with h in the UK, but the older form (without h) survives in the United States.

     

    Poor Letter H: its Use and Abuse, 1854.

    Shelfmark: 12985.a.10.

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