The oddly named letter H is usually pronounced ‘aitch’ /eɪtʃ/ in British English, but in Ireland we tend to aspirate it as ‘haitch’ /heɪtʃ/. In my biology years I would always have said ‘a HLA marker’, never ‘an HLA marker’. This haitching is a distinctive feature of Hiberno-English, one that may have originated as
an a hypercorrection but is now the norm in most Irish dialects.
A search on IrishTimes.com returned 1,946 hits for ‘a HSE’ and 92 for ‘an HSE’ (HSE = Health Service Executive), excluding readers’ letters and three false positives of Irish-language an HSE ‘the HSE’. Even allowing for duplications, this shows the emphatic preference for aspirating H in standard Hiberno-English. Haitchers gonna haitch.
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