Growing up, I was taught that when you are following the word T-H-E with a word that begins with a vowel, then the correct (and, to my ear) more pleasant pronunciation was “thee” – long e.
As in “please don’t feed thee animals.” One would never say, “please don’t feed thuh animals.”
I notice an increasing trend the other way, though. Even in the video of Miss California, below, I note it.
I hear it on television and in my own family. My sister recently talked about “theh old people.” It grates on my ears. It is a clunky use of language, and I don’t like it.
Am I too fussy? What do you say? When it precedes a word beginning in a vowel, do you go with “thee” or “thuh?”
For instance, how would you read The Empty Symbolism of Hate Crimes Legislation?
Thuh Empty? Thee Empty?
There will be a test. No math.
UPDATE II: Neo jumps in – BRILLIANTLY!