"a hostile work environment"and"an hostile work environment"

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Senior Member
I saw it from a news. It talks about the phenomenon that lots of people watching porn films at office. Here is the sentence I have question:

michael leahy, author of porn@work, says that the worst abusers are in upper management, and the practice sort of trickles down to the masses. it's certainly something that can create what's called "a hostile work environment" and possibly "an hostile work environment,"depending where your offices are.

What does the sentence "it's certainly something that can create what's called "a hostile work environment" and possibly "an hostile work environment," mean here? What the author wants to imply by differentiate "a hostile work environment" and "an hostile work environment"? Thank you
  • Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    He is trying to imply that the practice is widespread by referencing two rival enunciations of 'H' (a Hostile v. an Hostile) which varies according to location, or so the writer seems to think.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think this refers to a difference between American and British pronunciations of certain words beginning with 'h'.

    There are also regional differences in both countries.

    In Britain for example, some people pronounce "hotel" with an aspirated 'h'. They would say "I am staying at a hotel". Other people say "otel" in acknowledgement of the French origin of the word. They would say "I am staying at an hotel" (an otel)

    I think we need some input from a US forum member here.


    Senior Member
    American English
    This AE speaker wouldn't use "an hotel" if you paid him. :) I'm staying at a hotel, and very fine it is too ... far beyond my means.

    (And therefore "a hostile environment" -- I was so caught up with hotels, I forgot about "hostile." Maybe I was thinking of a hostel.)
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    Could this not be similar to "an historical", which has, I believe, historically been a "prestige"/educated pronunciation in American English? (I'm not sure about in Britain though)

    I've heard this type of pronunciation many times on 1950s television (I am not from that era though..) by the very careful speakers. Most of them tend to pronounce the "an" and the "h" (which is different from the historical pronunciation).

    If I remember correctly though, I believe it is only used for a small number of words, and is only for words with an unstressed first syllable. This is not the case here. So to make a long message short, I am not sure where they got it from...
    (I just checked and it appears like the rule is similar... perhaps a bit more complex than above. I am not overly familiar with this special "an" usage beyond "an historical"):


    Edit: after rereading the original context, perhaps it is more likely the speaker is simply referring to the cockney pronunciation, if he is located in the UK.
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