Mar 16th 2009 12:49PM GAH! For the intellectual benefit of pompous Commonwealth members (@Tenchan and @Serrat), I will reiterate that the British English pronunciation of "herb" is an innovation, while the American English pronunciation without the "h" sound was actually retained from the original, as the word was borrowed from French. See my post later in the thread and be enlightened. I suppose it won't help your hubris, though.
Mar 16th 2009 1:59AM Spare me the tired anti-American standard troll response, Dukah. According to the Oxford English dictionary, "herb" was introduced into the English language as a loan word from French during the late 13th century, at which point it was pronounced without the "h" sound in English, just as it was in French. This was the common pronunciation in England at the time when pilgrims set out to colonize America. This is why the majority of Americans continue to pronounce "herb" without the "h" sound. Over time, English speakers in Britain started to pronounce the "h" sound due to a linguistic phenomenon known as spelling pronunciation or hypercorrection - basically, they saw the "h" at the beginning of the word and pronounced it as such, even though previous generations had not pronounced the "h". So the standard British English pronunciation is actually an innovation, not the standard American English pronunciation, as you so politely implied.
By the way, I don't really care how people choose to pronounce the word - America-bashers just piss me off.
Mar 15th 2009 11:24PM Different regional dialects of English dictate different pronunciations of the word "herb" and its derivatives, i.e. with the "h" sound or without it. Assuming the author speaks the latter, "an herbalist" is perfectly fine.