Sorry, he's right, you're not

My Dark Distant Mistress, (and really , i wouldn't have it any other way) (me either)

I've enjoyed reading Evil Editor for oh, 2 days, until today, where he queerly went off on a query letter because the writer said:

"I'm enclosing a SASE."

He sort of excoriated her for not saying, "AN" SASE. As in, AN elephant. AN espadrille.

I am mystified. "I'm enclosing a SASE", seems like pretty standard English to me. "An" SASE makes no sense to me, and when i tried to politely say so in that thread, he chose not to include my polite comments about it.

I'm not runnin to you boo-hoo. But he's no Miss Snark, is what i'm sayin'. It'd be nice to have an editor's side but this is just weird. I know you've a thousand things more important but..wtf?

Best to you, and KY.

What part of EVIL isn't clear?

And "an SASE" is correct. Say these out loud to see what I mean: "an herb garden, an evil editor, an essay, an SASE".

And it's his blog, he gets to chop whatever comments he wants, polite or not, just as I do.


Pepper Smith said...

Yup. SASE is pronounced as if there's an invisible 'e' at the beginning, so it gets an 'an' ahead of it.

Just be glad we're not expected to say 'an hotel' any more. Now THAT would confuse people.

Anonymous said...

'An herb garden'? Well only if you're an American and do that weird thing where you pronounce herb as erb. It's not a silent H in most of the English-speaking world so actually 'a herb garden' is standard English, and 'an herb garden' is American English.

Nonny said...

I was really confused by this, too, so I looked up the rule in the grammar reference manual I own:

"NOTE: When you are dealing with an abbreviation, the choice of a or an will depend on whether you pronounce the expression letter by letter or as a word." (Gregg Reference Manual, 9th Edition.)

I'm guessing there's some kind of disparity in pronounciation of SASE? I've always heard it pronounced as a word, like "sassy," in which case, "a SASE" would be correct. But if it's pronounced "ess ay ess eee," then "an SASE" would be right, too.

Unless there's a hard-and-fast pronounciation rule for SASE, I'm not sure there is a 100% grammatically correct usage.

Just thought I'd offer some explanation for those who are still confused. :)

AM said...

Harold Underdown says in his COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO PUBLISHING CHILDREN'S BOOKS that "a SASE" is correct because people pronounce it "SAY-zee." I've heard a lot of people do this. Maybe that's done more in the kidlit world, which is my world. :)

Obviously, if you say "ess-ay-ess-ee," you should use "an" but for those of us you use the other pronunciation, "a" would be preferable.

I just type out "self-addressed stamped envelope" and avoid the problem altogether.

Dorothy said...

I wondered about "a" or "an" before SASE too and surveyed a bunch of people to see how they pronounced it. I got three pronunciations:

self-addressed stamped envelopes
(these folks use 'a')

(these folks use 'an')

(these folks use 'a')

That muddled the waters quite nicely for me. I went with 'a' and hoped the agents were too dazzled by my five pages to worry about it.

Bonnie Shimko said...

Well, now I know. I've been alternating "a" and "an" with "SASE" since I found out what SASE meant. I figured I'd be right half the time. I've read a truckload of "how to write a novel, get an agent, and become rich and famous" books. They come in at about 50/50 on the subject, which is how I became confused in the first place. Before all this research, I used "an." "A SASE" sounded as wrong as "a ant" or "a elephant." After reading all those experts' books, I thought that maybe "a" had to go with "Self." Now I'll be right all the time.

Anonymous said...

The correct article depends on whether you say sase (pronouncing the acronym as a word, like scuba) or S.A.S.E. (pronouncing each letter separately). Perhaps this is a regional thing.

Anonymous said...

They're both right. It just depends on how you read it. If you read "SASE" aloud as the letters s-a-s-e, it should require an "an." But I can also see the other person's side of it, if you read "SASE" as "Self Addressed, Stamped Envelope," the word would be "a." "An self addressed stamped envelope" wouldn't make very much sense.

Not that you really needed that explanation...

Anonymous said...

...and let me you tell, Her Snarkiness chops my comments out all the time...why, she even decided to omit a 1000 word column I wrote and wanted her to re-publish here in the comments section some time ago...can you believe that? I mean, what's this place coming to when you can't get a little self-serving publicity?

Kate said...

Perhaps what you are seeing here is the entrance of the acronym "SASE" into a part of the spoken vernacular, a la NATO, AIDS, radar, RAM, and scuba. A SASE is a "sassy" to me, when I read or talk, or a "sace" to others (but, they, of course, are wrong!).

(But then, I have a sad tendency to try to make words out of the alphabet gobbledegook that Blogger uses to prevent spam...)

Bonnie Shimko said...

Now I'm totally confused. I'm just never going to write "SASE" again. And I certainly hope that I'll never have to send another one to anybody!

Benja Fallenstein said...

This is one weird letter to Miss Snark. I can't shake off the feeling that this one must be a joke, but still, so weird. :-)

However, the anonymous snarkling is obviously correct in that Miss Snark is the poodle's pyjamas and Evil Editor is not, since she allows her snarklings to post opinions on the correct pronounciation of SASE in her comments thread and he does not. It is necessary that someone tell the world how SASE is pronounced, since so many people get it wrong. Even the savvy ones seem to pronounce it "sazzy."

1. Both esses in SASE are pronounced softly: zazze.

2. The a is pronounced long and as in bar, not as in aye: zuh-ze.

3. The e is pronounced like the two a's in "an herb garden:" zuh-z@. (That's the symbol linguists use for it, I think.)

It follows from this that it's a SASE, not "an" SASE.

Follow these pronounciation guidelines, and you will be happier for it. (I can't imagine what it must be like for you guys, squirming slightly every time you read the word SASE...) (You DO squirm, right? Or don't you realize even subconsciously that you're getting it wrong?!?)

Why it is pronounced like this? Why, because that's how it would be pronounced in German, of course.

And if you don't think that's a good reason: Who owns your publisher, smartie?

Yup, that's right.

End of discussion. Over and out.

- Benja (who, yes, really does pronounce SASE like this) (and who cares, as long as I only talk to you in writing) (right, those who think it's "an ess aye ess ee," eek, and the ell oh are dee saw that it was good, dog help us)

S. W. Vaughn said...

On the other hand, I've seen SASE so many times that I've started to read it as an actual word: "say-zee" rather than "ess aye ess ee." I tend (erroneously, I see) to write "A say-zee" because "an say-zee" makes me think of spiders...

Anonymous said...

Why even put this SASE-enclosed line in a query letter, anyway?

You can always write, "encl.: SASE" at the bottom, pretending you have an old-school secretary.

Or, you can rely on the agent/editor's wicked observational powers to detect said SASE in your query packet.


Mirtika said...

I pronounce it as if it were SAYSEE, not EssAyEssEee. So I use an "a SASE". Even if I read it out, Self-addressed.... It's "A self-addressed stamped..."

I hate the "an SASE," personally.


Benja Fallenstein said...

Actually, I should have said, "like the first a and the second e in 'an herb garden', as long as you pronounce the second e at all and don't just swallow it," or something like that, since the a in garden is of course pronounced like the A in SASE, not like the E.

(Not that anybody's going to care. I just feel stupid now.)

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who's noticed that Evil Editor is a comedian? The whole SASE thing was a joke, people. If you're taking everything you read on his blog this seriously/literally, you are missing a lot of the humor.

Evil Editor said...

Evil Editor did not take sides on the issue of whether it should be "a" or "an." He took sides on whether this was a mock-issue brought up for laughs, or an issue worthy of the incensed, overwrought, impassioned reactions it was generating on both sides. Having decided in favor of the former, it seemed only humane to suspend commenting before any of his minions could embarrass themselves.

BuffySquirrel said...

I'm beginning to feel grateful that the agent who kindly requested a partial from me recently explictly said I should not send either a SASE or an SASE, but just let the ms be recycled instead.

M. G. Tarquini said...

Just when we thought we'd put the SASE issue to rest, yet another wrinkle rises in the controversy.

Anonymous said...

Mirtika said...
I pronounce it as if it were SAYSEE, not EssAyEssEee.

But it's technically S.A.S.E.

jta said...

Paging Dr. Van Helsing...

Anonymous said...

Oh please just give it a rest. Who freakin' cares? It was just a joke.

Patrice Michelle said...

LOL! Evil Editor suspended comments on this issue and it ends up on Miss Snark's blog...still being debated.

Shelli Stevens said...

Well shoot. I'm sure I've been saying 'a sase' *smack*

Bonnie Calhoun said...

The SASE rears its head again...LOL!

How may different debates can be attributed to those four poor little letters? ROFLOL!

Anonymous said...

So, what happens if you pronounce it as SASE, but the person you are sending it to pronounces each letter separately? What then? Huh? Bet you never thought of that, did you??? ;-)

(And who are these people who enunciate the silent E on the end of SASE anyway!???)

Eleora said...

I have also always used "a SASE" because my logic (usually not common to others in the human race) is that if you spelled it all out it would only be correct to say "a self-addressed stamped envelope" not "an self-addressed..."

I will change my ways...

Beth said...

"a SASE" is correct because people pronounce it "SAY-zee."

Well...not all people. I don't.

An S.A.S.E.

Nikki said...

In the UK it's an SAE - stamped addressed envelope. And definitely Ess-ay-ee!

Pepper Smith said...

So, if we put it all together, do you think we could write an essay on SASEs?

Sorry, couldn't help myself.

Anonymous said...

Here's to responsible readers who get the clue as to acronym pronunciation from the indefinate article preceeding it. Train your mind to read "a sassy" or "an es-a-es-e." I vote for a SASE tart otherwise, as it rolls off the mental tongue easier.

E. Ann Bardawill said...

"... and please find enclosed the SASE as per your requirements."

Nayh nayyah!

Anonymous said...

an evil editor
a sweet editor
an envelope
a red envelope
a self-addressed envelope
therefore, a SASE

JohnFox said...

So what I've discussed is there is absolutely no consensis. But still, everyone has a very firm opinion. I guess either way is acceptable.