Nick Enfield | The ‘aitch’ or ‘haitch’ debate has a dark side
16809
post-template-default,single,single-post,postid-16809,single-format-standard,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,side_area_uncovered_from_content,qode-child-theme-ver-1.0.0,qode-theme-ver-17.2,qode-theme-bridge,qode_header_in_grid,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.6,vc_responsive

The ‘aitch’ or ‘haitch’ debate has a dark side

The ‘aitch’ or ‘haitch’ debate has a dark side

21 May 2018

A good number of Australians hate it when people refer to the letter “h” as “haitch”. They hate it with a passion.

While the “haitch” pronunciation is often linked to Irish Catholic education in times when Australian society was divided along sectarian lines, no research has conclusively established its true history. But whatever its origins, it continues to be regarded as a marker of “lower” segments of society.

In a recent talkback radio segment about language discrimination, one caller said his mother has a physical reaction when she hears “haitch”. Another explained that she so hates to hear people say “haitch” that she will not listen to the radio at all during HSC time. And another reported that as a pupil in a rural convent school, anyone who said “haitch” would get the ruler.

These foibles may seem like harmless banter about the texture of our language, but attitudes like this have a decidedly dark side.

For a start, they are irrational. People have a hard time explaining why “haitch” is wrong or bad. Often it is just a bodily response. But emotions like disgust and contempt mess with our critical faculties and lead us to ignore reason and instead go with our gut. It is easy to imagine that caller’s mother rejecting a job applicant because they said “haitch”. But why use such a superficial signal as a basis for determining a person’s true qualifications and capacities? It is not just discriminatory, but the haitch-hating employer may be depriving themselves of the best candidate for the job.

Similarly, the person who turns off the radio because they can’t stand to hear people say “haitch ess see” is depriving themselves of information and insights that they would normally find useful.

The problem gets worse when our feelings about language lead us to threaten violence over how others pronounce their words—independent of the content of what they are saying. This ranges from convent girls getting the ruler for saying “haitch”, to people being taken off planes for speaking Arabic on their phones, to people being beaten up in the street for conversing in a community language.

The licence to feel disgust or hate towards a way of speaking, and an entitlement to punish that way of speaking, is easily transferred from quibbles over pronunciation all the way to the suppression of entire languages. Someone who says that haitch-sayers should be silenced or sanctioned is using the same form of irrational and intolerant reasoning that has led to minority languages, and their associated social identities, going into hiding.

Indigenous children in colonial nations like Australia and Canada have suffered everything from shame to corporal punishment for speaking their native language in schools, boarding houses, and public places. Suppression of minority languages is driven by passions that are both ill-informed and brutal. This suppression continues across the world today, wherever any of the world’s 6,000 or so non-official languages are spoken.

If given a choice, most people will prefer to avoid shame or punishment, and so if a person’s language is fair game, they will naturally avoid using it altogether, choosing instead to blend in. A sure result is a fatal break in the transmission of the language to subsequent generations, as has happened in the history of many Australian Indigenous languages.

Peeves about the details of language are everyday occurrences, and they may appear to be harmless. But they reflect a sinister combination of superficial evaluation, emotive judgment, and tribal prejudice. As such, language attitudes are among the enemies of reason and progress.

So, to borrow from Voltaire: You may disapprove of my saying “haitch”, but you should defend to the death my right to say it.

Image: There is no conclusive evidence linking ‘haitch’ to an Irish Catholic education. as is widely believed. CREDIT:ERIN JONASSON

Originally published on The Sydney Morning Herald

58 Comments
  • ciprofloxacin price without insurance
    Posted at 02:26h, 20 April

    ciprofloxacin price without insurance

    Nick Enfield | The ‘aitch’ or ‘haitch’ debate has a dark side

  • viagra prices 50mg
    Posted at 00:25h, 22 April

    viagra prices 50mg

    Nick Enfield | The ‘aitch’ or ‘haitch’ debate has a dark side

  • generic albuterol inhaler
    Posted at 22:44h, 23 April

    generic albuterol inhaler

    Nick Enfield | The ‘aitch’ or ‘haitch’ debate has a dark side

  • online cialis
    Posted at 04:31h, 24 April

    online cialis

    Nick Enfield | The ‘aitch’ or ‘haitch’ debate has a dark side

  • generic viagra available
    Posted at 21:08h, 04 May

    generic viagra available

    Nick Enfield | The ‘aitch’ or ‘haitch’ debate has a dark side

  • viagra 100mg price per pill
    Posted at 00:16h, 09 May

    viagra 100mg price per pill

    Nick Enfield | The ‘aitch’ or ‘haitch’ debate has a dark side

  • buy tylenol online
    Posted at 00:37h, 09 May

    buy tylenol online

    Nick Enfield | The ‘aitch’ or ‘haitch’ debate has a dark side

  • chloroquine 200 mg
    Posted at 07:24h, 27 May

    chloroquine 200 mg

    Nick Enfield | The ‘aitch’ or ‘haitch’ debate has a dark side

  • hydroxychloroquine brand name
    Posted at 08:08h, 03 June

    hydroxychloroquine brand name

    Nick Enfield | The ‘aitch’ or ‘haitch’ debate has a dark side

  • ed pills online
    Posted at 20:54h, 29 June

    ed pills online

    Nick Enfield | The ‘aitch’ or ‘haitch’ debate has a dark side

  • cialis generic
    Posted at 19:10h, 01 July

    cialis generic

    Nick Enfield | The ‘aitch’ or ‘haitch’ debate has a dark side

  • order viagra online
    Posted at 16:33h, 11 July

    order viagra online

    Nick Enfield | The ‘aitch’ or ‘haitch’ debate has a dark side

  • latisse generic bimatoprost 3ml solution
    Posted at 10:36h, 14 July

    latisse generic bimatoprost 3ml solution

    Nick Enfield | The ‘aitch’ or ‘haitch’ debate has a dark side

  • cialis 20 mg price
    Posted at 00:11h, 15 July

    cialis 20 mg price

    Nick Enfield | The ‘aitch’ or ‘haitch’ debate has a dark side

  • overnight viagra
    Posted at 03:19h, 23 July

    overnight viagra

    Nick Enfield | The ‘aitch’ or ‘haitch’ debate has a dark side

  • efcaxdszdfszgd
    Posted at 14:44h, 29 July

    Title

    […]The info talked about in the post are a number of the very best accessible […]

  • can viagra 100mg be dangerous
    Posted at 22:27h, 29 July

    can viagra 100mg be dangerous

    Nick Enfield | The ‘aitch’ or ‘haitch’ debate has a dark side

  • m980u9oy9y98o8y9pm
    Posted at 17:56h, 30 July

    Title

    […]that is the end of this post. Here you’ll come across some websites that we believe you’ll enjoy, just click the hyperlinks over[…]

  • m90uojmuy7hjhhhh
    Posted at 13:55h, 31 July

    Title

    […]Sites of interest we’ve a link to[…]

  • rxc43rw435tr53t453t
    Posted at 04:39h, 02 August

    Title

    […]check beneath, are some completely unrelated sites to ours, having said that, they may be most trustworthy sources that we use[…]

  • buy chloroquine phosphate
    Posted at 18:20h, 09 August

    buy chloroquine phosphate

    Nick Enfield | The ‘aitch’ or ‘haitch’ debate has a dark side

  • car london brighton
    Posted at 14:41h, 11 August

    Title

    […]that is the finish of this post. Right here you will locate some web pages that we think you will value, just click the links over[…]

  • Stansted Airport pick
    Posted at 15:39h, 11 August

    Title

    […]Here is a great Blog You may Find Intriguing that we Encourage You[…]

  • World Map Tapestry
    Posted at 18:54h, 30 August

    Title

    […]always a huge fan of linking to bloggers that I really like but really don’t get quite a bit of link appreciate from[…]

  • cxqw234xracrwcr4
    Posted at 00:21h, 01 September

    Title

    […]Here is a superb Blog You might Discover Interesting that we Encourage You[…]

  • xdsffx4crta4rtxa34w
    Posted at 21:11h, 01 September

    Title

    […]very few sites that come about to be comprehensive beneath, from our point of view are undoubtedly properly really worth checking out[…]

  • cheap cialis online
    Posted at 23:47h, 22 September

    cheap cialis online

    Nick Enfield | The ‘aitch’ or ‘haitch’ debate has a dark side

  • cheap cialis usa
    Posted at 23:35h, 29 September

    buy cialis online usa

    cialis coupon walgreens

  • Google
    Posted at 15:59h, 30 September

    Google

    Here is an excellent Blog You may Find Fascinating that we encourage you to visit.

  • cialis dose
    Posted at 16:02h, 04 October

    generic cialis tadalafil

    cialis prices

  • Google
    Posted at 04:31h, 06 October

    Google

    The facts mentioned inside the write-up are several of the ideal readily available.

  • Hot Water Heater Repair Denver
    Posted at 09:44h, 06 October

    Hot Water Heater Repair Denver

    […]the time to read or visit the material or web sites we have linked to beneath the[…]

  • christian social media
    Posted at 09:04h, 07 October

    christian social media

    […]below you’ll uncover the link to some web pages that we believe you ought to visit[…]

  • order viagra online
    Posted at 19:29h, 07 October

    viagra cheap

    non prescription viagra

  • computer disposal portsmouth
    Posted at 16:15h, 08 October

    computer disposal portsmouth

    […]here are some links to sites that we link to simply because we think they may be really worth visiting[…]

  • viagra prescription
    Posted at 19:00h, 08 October

    viagra pills

    viagra buy

  • pubg lite hile satın al
    Posted at 23:35h, 10 October

    pubg lite hile satın al

    […]always a huge fan of linking to bloggers that I adore but don’t get a lot of link really like from[…]

  • exchange crypto
    Posted at 01:42h, 12 October

    exchange crypto

    […]The information mentioned in the report are a number of the ideal offered […]

  • Savannah Kittens For Sale Near Me
    Posted at 10:02h, 12 October

    Savannah Kittens For Sale Near Me

    […]The info mentioned within the article are a number of the ideal accessible […]

  • Teacup Boxer Puppies For Sale near me
    Posted at 11:10h, 12 October

    Teacup Boxer Puppies For Sale near me

    […]check below, are some completely unrelated internet websites to ours, nevertheless, they’re most trustworthy sources that we use[…]

  • Puppies for adoption near me
    Posted at 12:50h, 12 October

    Puppies for adoption near me

    […]the time to study or take a look at the content material or websites we’ve linked to beneath the[…]

  • cheap kittens for sale
    Posted at 13:10h, 12 October

    cheap kittens for sale

    […]Sites of interest we have a link to[…]

  • VAPE PEN
    Posted at 15:15h, 12 October

    VAPE PEN

    […]we came across a cool site that you simply might appreciate. Take a look in case you want[…]

  • REAL COUNTERFEIT MONEY FOR SALE ONLINE
    Posted at 17:42h, 12 October

    REAL COUNTERFEIT MONEY FOR SALE ONLINE

    […]always a big fan of linking to bloggers that I really like but don’t get a good deal of link love from[…]

  • dildos
    Posted at 23:04h, 12 October

    dildos

    […]always a major fan of linking to bloggers that I adore but don’t get quite a bit of link adore from[…]

  • Credit Sweep scam
    Posted at 00:14h, 13 October

    Credit Sweep scam

    […]always a massive fan of linking to bloggers that I really like but don’t get a great deal of link appreciate from[…]

  • order viagra
    Posted at 21:50h, 13 October

    buy generic viagra online

    order viagra

  • find a builder near me
    Posted at 22:59h, 13 October

    find a builder near me

    […]please pay a visit to the web sites we adhere to, which includes this a single, because it represents our picks in the web[…]

  • best classic vibrators
    Posted at 00:47h, 14 October

    best classic vibrators

    […]very few web-sites that come about to be comprehensive below, from our point of view are undoubtedly nicely really worth checking out[…]

  • dinh cu canada
    Posted at 11:03h, 14 October

    dinh cu canada

    […]Every the moment in a while we opt for blogs that we read. Listed below are the latest websites that we pick out […]