> Indeed. My understanding is that the usage of a/an depends on the
> pronunciation of the next word. In the case of unicorn, it sounds like
> it begins with a "you", hence "a unicorn"
>
> on the flip side, consider the phrase "I'll be there in an hour",
> silent 'h' so we use "an hour"


true. vowels following a mute h should be included should be included
together with the (single) vowels.

btw, out of curiosity, how can one distinguish in code a short vowel (like
the u in umbrella) from a long you-nicorn-like vowel ?

does different pronunciation comes from the subsequent  letters ? i'm
thinking uMBrella, uNCle, uRGengt, uNDer, uGLy, uPPer, uRGe but uNIcorn,
eULogy (or is this "an eulogy"? now i'm confused)... i'm wondering if two
consonants make it "an" and at least one vowel make in "a". Maybe I'm just
ramblingm, this sounds so un-rubyesque :S

cheers,
g.