|Other letters commonly used with||h(x), ch, gh, nh, ph, sh, ſh, th, wh, (x)h|
H, or h, is the eighth letter in the Latin alphabet, used in the modern English alphabet, including the alphabets of other western European languages and others worldwide. Its name in English is aitch (pronounced //, plural aitches), or regionally haitch //.
While Etruscan and Latin had /h/ as a phoneme, almost all Romance languages lost the sound—Romanian later re-borrowed the /h/ phoneme from its neighbouring Slavic languages, and Spanish developed a secondary /h/ from /f/, before losing it again; various Spanish dialects have developed [h] as an allophone of /s/ or /x/ in most Spanish-speaking countries, and various dialects of Portuguese use it as an allophone of /ʀ/. 'H' is also used in many spelling systems in digraphs and trigraphs, such as 'ch', which represents /tʃ/ in Spanish, Galician, and Old Portuguese; /ʃ/ in French and modern Portuguese; /k/ in Italian and French.
Name in English
For most English speakers, the name for the letter is pronounced as // and spelled "aitch" or occasionally "eitch". The pronunciation // and the associated spelling "haitch" is often considered to be h-adding and is considered non-standard in England. It is, however, a feature of Hiberno-English, and occurs sporadically in various other dialects.
The perceived name of the letter affects the choice of
The haitch pronunciation of h has spread in England, being used by approximately 24% of English people born since 1982, and polls continue to show this pronunciation becoming more common among younger native speakers. Despite this increasing number, the pronunciation without the /h/ sound is still considered to be standard in England, although the pronunciation with /h/ is also attested as a legitimate variant. In Northern Ireland, the pronunciation of the letter has been used as a shibboleth, with Catholics typically pronouncing it with the /h/ and Protestants pronouncing the letter without it.
Authorities disagree about the history of the letter's name. The Oxford English Dictionary says the original name of the letter was [ˈaha] in Latin; this became [ˈaka] in Vulgar Latin, passed into English via Old French [atʃ], and by Middle English was pronounced [aːtʃ]. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language derives it from French hache from Latin haca or hic. Anatoly Liberman suggests a conflation of two obsolete orderings of the alphabet, one with H immediately followed by K and the other without any K: reciting the former's ..., H, K, L,... as [...(h)a ka el ...] when reinterpreted for the latter ..., H, L,... would imply a pronunciation [(h)a ka] for H.
Use in writing systems
In English, ⟨h⟩ occurs as a single-letter
In the German language, the name of the letter is pronounced /haː/. Following a vowel, it often silently indicates that the vowel is long: In the word erhöhen ('heighten'), the second ⟨h⟩ is mute for most speakers outside of Switzerland. In 1901, a spelling reform eliminated the silent ⟨h⟩ in nearly all instances of ⟨th⟩ in native German words such as thun ('to do') or Thür ('door'). It has been left unchanged in words derived from Greek, such as Theater ('theater') and Thron ('throne'), which continue to be spelled with ⟨th⟩ even after the last German spelling reform.
In Spanish and Portuguese, ⟨h⟩ (hache ['atʃe] in Spanish, agá [ɐˈɣa, aˈɡa] in Portuguese) is a silent letter with no pronunciation, as in hijo [ˈixo] ('son') and húngaro [ˈũɡaɾu] ('Hungarian'). The spelling reflects an earlier pronunciation of the sound /h/. In words where the ⟨h⟩ is derived from a Latin /f/, it is still sometimes pronounced with the value [h] in some regions of Andalusia, Extremadura, Canarias, Cantabria, and the Americas. Some words beginning with [je] or [we], such as hielo, 'ice' and huevo, 'egg', were given an initial ⟨h⟩ to avoid confusion between their initial semivowels and the consonants ⟨j⟩ and ⟨v⟩. This is because ⟨j⟩ and ⟨v⟩ used to be considered variants of ⟨i⟩ and ⟨u⟩ respectively. ⟨h⟩ also appears in the digraph ⟨ch⟩, which represents /tʃ/ in Spanish and northern Portugal, and /ʃ/ in varieties that have merged both sounds (the latter originally represented by ⟨x⟩ instead), such as most of the Portuguese language and some Spanish dialects, prominently Chilean Spanish.
In French, the name of the letter is written as "ache" and pronounced /aʃ/. The French orthography classifies words that begin with this letter in two ways, one of which can affect the pronunciation, even though it is a silent letter either way. The H muet, or "mute" ⟨h⟩, is considered as though the letter were not there at all, so for example the singular definite article le or la, which is elided to l' before a vowel, elides before an H muet followed by a vowel. For example, le + hébergement becomes l'hébergement ('the accommodation'). The other kind of ⟨h⟩ is called h aspiré ("aspirated '⟨h⟩'", though it is not normally aspirated phonetically), and does not allow elision or liaison. For example in le homard ('the lobster') the article le remains unelided, and may be separated from the noun with a bit of a glottal stop. Most words that begin with an H muet come from Latin (honneur, homme) or from Greek through Latin (hécatombe), whereas most words beginning with an H aspiré come from Germanic (harpe, hareng) or non-Indo-European languages (harem, hamac, haricot); in some cases, an orthographic ⟨h⟩ was added to disambiguate the [v] and semivowel [ɥ] pronunciations before the introduction of the distinction between the letters ⟨v⟩ and ⟨u⟩: huit (from uit, ultimately from Latin octo), huître (from uistre, ultimately from Greek through Latin ostrea).
In Italian, ⟨h⟩ has no
In Irish, ⟨h⟩ is not considered an independent letter, except for a very few non-native words, however ⟨h⟩ placed after a consonant is known as a "séimhiú" and indicates lenition of that consonant; ⟨h⟩ began to replace the original form of a séimhiú, a dot placed above the consonant, after the introduction of typewriters.
In most dialects of Polish, both ⟨h⟩ and the digraph ⟨ch⟩ always represent /x/.
As a phonetic symbol in the
- H with ꞕ Ꜧ ꜧ
- IPA-specific symbols related to H: ʜ ɦ ʰ ʱ ɥ ᶣ ɧ
- Superscript IPA symbols related to H:
- VoQS to represent faucalized voice.
- ᴴ : Modifier letter H is used in the Uralic Phonetic Alphabet
- ₕ : Subscript small h was used in the Uralic Phonetic Alphabet prior to its formal standardization in 1902
- ʰ : Modifier letter small h is used in Indo-European studies
- ʯ : Turned H with fishhook and turned H with fishhook and tail are used in Sino-Tibetanist linguistics
- Ƕ ƕ : Latin letter hwair, derived from a ligature of the digraph hv, and used to transliterate the Gothic letter 𐍈 (which represented the sound [hʷ])
- Ⱶ ⱶ : Claudian letters
- Ꟶ ꟶ : Reversed half h used in Roman inscriptions from the Roman provinces of Gaul
Ancestors, siblings, and descendants in other alphabets
- 𐤇 : Semitic letter Heth, from which the following symbols derive
- Η η : Eta, from which the following symbols derive
- Η η :
Derived signs, symbols, and abbreviations
- h : Planck constant
- ℏ : reduced Planck constant
- : Blackboard bold capital H used in quaternion notation
|Unicode name||LATIN CAPITAL LETTER H||LATIN SMALL LETTER H|
|Numeric character reference||H
1 and all encodings based on ASCII, including the DOS, Windows, ISO-8859, and Macintosh families of encodings.
|Signal flag||Flag semaphore||American manual alphabet (ASL fingerspelling)||Braille dots-125|
Unified English Braille
- "H" Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989); Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (1993); "aitch" or "haitch", op. cit.
- "'Haitch' or 'aitch'? How do you pronounce 'H'?". BBC News. Archived from the original on 12 October 2016. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
- Todd, L. & Hancock I.: "International English Ipod", page 254. Routledge, 1990.
- John C. Wells, Longman Pronunciation Dictionary, page 360, Pearson, Harlow, 2008
- Liberman, Anatoly (7 August 2013). "Alphabet soup, part 2: H and Y". Oxford Etymologist. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
- In many dialects, /hw/ and /w/ have merged
- "phonology - Why is /h/ called voiceless vowel phonetically, and /h/ consonant phonologically?". Linguistics Stack Exchange. Archived from the original on 5 May 2019. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
- Constable, Peter (19 April 2004). "L2/04-132 Proposal to add additional phonetic characters to the UCS" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 11 October 2017. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- Miller, Kirk; Ashby, Michael (8 November 2020). "L2/20-252R: Unicode request for IPA modifier-letters (a), pulmonic" (PDF).
- Everson, Michael; et al. (20 March 2002). "L2/02-141: Uralic Phonetic Alphabet characters for the UCS" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 19 February 2018. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- Ruppel, Klaas; Aalto, Tero; Everson, Michael (27 January 2009). "L2/09-028: Proposal to encode additional characters for the Uralic Phonetic Alphabet" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 11 October 2017. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- Anderson, Deborah; Everson, Michael (7 June 2004). "L2/04-191: Proposal to encode six Indo-Europeanist phonetic characters in the UCS" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 11 October 2017. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- Cook, Richard; Everson, Michael (20 September 2001). "L2/01-347: Proposal to add six phonetic characters to the UCS" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 11 October 2017. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- Everson, Michael (12 August 2005). "L2/05-193R2: Proposal to add Claudian Latin letters to the UCS" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 14 June 2019. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- West, Andrew; Everson, Michael (25 March 2019). "L2/19-092: Proposal to encode Latin Letter Reversed Half H" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 June 2019. Retrieved 17 March 2020.