How Do You Pronounce Hermetic!?

I keep seeing the books and people use "an" instead of "a" before the word Hermetic, as in "an Hermetic spell". But the name of the Greek god, Hermes, does not have a silent or un-pronounced "h" but in fact a hard, airy "h" so... I'm really confused! Are we pronouncing Hermetic as "air-metic" or "urr-metic" or something here? I can't handle it, I don't understand, help me.

Are they possibly British? Some regional accents drop the "h" and treat the word as if it start with a vowel. "An 'ansom fellow, 'e is."

I pronounce "Hermetic" variably, but always with a real H. HERmetic; HAIRmetic - wobbly adaptive accent comes from a childhood all over the continental USA.

Being British, I pronounce it "Her Met Ik"

Being Spanish I say "er-mE-ti-ko"

I vaguely remember something about formal English grammar putting "an" before any word starting with the letters AEIOUY and H, which is one of the rules brought over in an attempt to make English grammar conform more to Latin rules. This is the same push that gave us zany rules like not splitting an infinitive, or not ending a sentence with a preposition.

While a bit old-fashioned in some English-speaking regions, which only use this in front of vowel sounds, it's not all that uncommon.

This doesn't ring a bell for me. Can you quote an instance from published Ars Magica material that actually writes 'an Hermetic spell' or sow thing like it?

Cartogriffi has it right. In formal English grammar, words beginning with an H get an "an" rather than "a".

Usually ignored in spoken English by all but the poshest of the posh.

Stephen Fry says it best...

My problem is that I'm not a native, and every typo resets my understanding of the sentence. Synonyms and near misses are close enough that I get the gist of the story, but unrelated words just throw the meaning to Never Never Land. Waddayamean, the Capitol of England? The only one is in Greece, for all that is loved!

Fonetix is meaningless noise to me as I learned by reading and would never speak it aloud. I just cannot understand how people who love books and academics so much can misspell to badly. Kurisumasu at least has the limitation of the syllabary used.


From what I recall, the a/an split exists in order to keep the vowel sound of the "a" from slurring into the beginning of the next word, if that word also begins with a vowel. so, "a snake" versus "an orangutan".

similarly, "an H" is appropriate, because "H", by itself, is pronounced "ay-che" (sort of). So I'm guessing that's where the rule originally came from.

However, as others have pointed out - "Hermetic", when pronounced out loud, doesn't have a soft "a" at the beginning. So even if it's grammatically correct, it's utterly pointless to do.

Seconded, with enthusiasm!
Non-native speakers are generally much more at the mercy of minor typos or grammatical oddities.
If you are unsure of of the language, it is easy to wonder if some minor detail is just a typo (and should be ignored) or is important to the sentence (see this for an example). For native speakers, such things are usually obvious, but for the rest of us?

You are right, absolutely right!
The H in "Hermes" or "Hermetic" is not mute, not at all.
Thus, since the first sound of the word is not a vowel sound, you say "a Hermetic wizard" rather than "an Hermetic"; just like you say "a humble housekeeper" or "a hissed hex".

Ignore this remark! Don't write "an house" or "an hot bath", particularly in formal English!

In my experience, it's US folks who tend to drop stuff :slight_smile:

I usually don't bother using "an" in front of a word beginning with H, but those BBC newsreaders love referring to "an historic occasion".

If you're asking how to pronounce the best magical system ever devised, it's pronounced "Merry Neater".