|Writing system||Latin script|
|Language of origin||Latin language|
|Phonetic usage||[ h ]|
[ x ]
[ ħ ]
[ ɦ ]
[ ɥ ]
[ ʜ ]
[ ʔ ]
[ ◌ʰ ]
[ ç ]
|Time period||~-700 to present|
|Descendants|| • Ħ |
|Sisters|| Һ |
|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 ISO basic Latin alphabet. Its name in English is aitch (pronounced // , plural aitches), or regionally haitch // .
|Egyptian hieroglyph |
| Old Semitic |
| Greek |
The original Semitic letter Heth most likely represented the voiceless pharyngeal fricative ( ħ ). The form of the letter probably stood for a fence or posts.
The Greek eta 'Η' in Archaic Greek alphabets still represented /h/ (later on it came to represent a long vowel, /ɛː/). In this context, the letter eta is also known as heta to underline this fact. Thus, in the Old Italic alphabets, the letter heta of the Euboean alphabet was adopted with its original sound value /h/.
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, Old Portuguese and English, /ʃ/ in French and modern Portuguese, /k/ in Italian, French and English, /x/ in German, Czech, Polish, Slovak, one native word of English and a few loanwords into English, and /ç/ in German.
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 nonstandard in England. It is, however, a feature of Hiberno-English, as well as scattered varieties of Edinburgh, England, and Welsh English.
The perceived name of the letter affects the choice of indefinite article before initialisms beginning with H: for example "an H-bomb" or "a H-bomb". The pronunciation /heɪtʃ/ may be a hypercorrection formed by analogy with the names of the other letters of the alphabet, most of which include the sound they represent.
The haitch pronunciation of h has spread in England, being used by approximately 24% of English people born since 1982, /h/ sound is still considered to be standard in England, although the pronunciation with /h/ is also attested as a legitimate variant.and polls continue to show this pronunciation becoming more common among younger native speakers. Despite this increasing number, the pronunciation without the
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.
In English, ⟨h⟩ occurs as a single-letter grapheme (being either silent or representing the voiceless glottal fricative ( // ) and in various digraphs, such as ⟨ch⟩ // , // , // , or // ), ⟨gh⟩ (silent, /ɡ/, /k/, /p/, or /f/), ⟨ph⟩ (/f/), ⟨rh⟩ (/r/), ⟨sh⟩ ( // ), ⟨th⟩ ( // or // ), ⟨wh⟩ (/hw/ ). The letter is silent in a syllable rime, as in ah, ohm, dahlia, cheetah, pooh-poohed, as well as in certain other words (mostly of French origin) such as hour, honest, herb (in American but not British English) and vehicle. Initial /h/ is often not pronounced in the weak form of some function words including had, has, have, he, her, him, his, and in some varieties of English (including most regional dialects of England and Wales) it is often omitted in all words (see '⟨h⟩'-dropping). It was formerly common for an rather than a to be used as the indefinite article before a word beginning with /h/ in an unstressed syllable, as in "an historian", but use of a is now more usual (see English articles § Indefinite article). In English, The pronunciation of ⟨h⟩ as /h/ can be analyzed as a voiceless vowel. That is, when the phoneme /h/ precedes a vowel, /h/ may be realized as a voiceless version of the subsequent vowel. For example the word ⟨hit⟩, /hɪt/ is realized as [ɪ̥ɪt]. H is the eighth most frequently used letter in the English language (after S, N, I, O, A, T, and E), with a frequency of about 4.2% in words.
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" in Spanish, pronounced Spanish pronunciation: ['atʃe], or agá in Portuguese, pronounced [aˈɣa] or [ɐˈɡa] ) 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/. It is sometimes pronounced with the value [h], in some regions of Andalusia, Extremadura, Canarias, Cantabria and the Americas in the beginning of some words. ⟨h⟩ also appears in the digraph ⟨ch⟩, which represents /tʃ/ in Spanish and northern Portugal, and /ʃ/ in oral traditions that merged both sounds (the latter originarily represented by ⟨x⟩ instead) e.g. in most of the Portuguese language and some Spanish-speaking places, prominently Chile, as well as ⟨nh⟩/ɲ/ and ⟨lh⟩/ʎ/ in Portuguese, whose spelling is inherited from Occitan.
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 phonological value. Its most important uses are in the digraphs 'ch' /k/ and 'gh' /ɡ/, as well as to differentiate the spellings of certain short words that are homophones, for example some present tense forms of the verb avere ('to have') (such as hanno, 'they have', vs. anno, 'year'), and in short interjections (oh, ehi).
Some languages, including Czech, Slovak, Hungarian, and Finnish, use ⟨h⟩ as a breathy voiced glottal fricative [ɦ], often as an allophone of otherwise voiceless /h/ in a voiced environment.
In Hungarian, the letter has five independent pronunciations, perhaps more than in any other language, with an additional three uses as a productive and non-productive member of a digraph. H may represent /h/ as in the name of the Székely town Hargita; intervocalically it represents /ɦ/ as in "tehéz"; it represents /x/ in the word "doh"; it represents /ç/ in "ihlet"; and it is silent in "Cseh". As part of a diphthong, it represents, in archaic spelling, /t͡ʃ/ with the letter C as in the name "Széchényi; it represents, again, with the letter C, /x/ in "pech" (which is pronounced [pɛx]); in certain environments it breaks palatalization of a consonant, as in the name "Horthy" which is pronounced [hɔrti] (without the intervening H, the name "Horty" would be pronounced [hɔrc]); and finally, it acts as a silent component of a diphthong, as in the name "Vargha", pronounced [vɒrgɒ].
In Ukrainian and Belarusian, when written in the Latin alphabet, ⟨h⟩ is also commonly used for /ɦ/, which is otherwise written with the Cyrillic letter ⟨г⟩.
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/.
In Basque, during the 20th century it was not used in the orthography of the Basque dialects in Spain but it marked an aspiration in the North-Eastern dialects. During the standardization of Basque in the 1970s, the compromise was reached that h would be accepted if it were the first consonant in a syllable. Hence, herri ("people") and etorri ("to come") were accepted instead of erri (Biscayan) and ethorri (Souletin). Speakers could pronounce the h or not. For the dialects lacking the aspiration, this meant a complication added to the standardized spelling.
As a phonetic symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), it is used mainly for the so-called aspirations (fricative or trills), and variations of the plain letter are used to represent two sounds: the lowercase form ⟨ h ⟩ represents the voiceless glottal fricative, and the small capital form ⟨ ʜ ⟩ represents the voiceless epiglottal fricative (or trill). With a bar, minuscule ⟨ ħ ⟩ is used for a voiceless pharyngeal fricative. Specific to the IPA, a hooked ⟨ ɦ ⟩ is used for a voiced glottal fricative, and a superscript ⟨ ʰ ⟩ is used to represent aspiration.
|Unicode name||LATIN CAPITAL LETTER H||LATIN SMALL LETTER H|
|Numeric character reference||H||H||h||h|
1 and all encodings based on ASCII, including the DOS, Windows, ISO-8859 and Macintosh families of encodings.
Eth is a letter used in Old English, Middle English, Icelandic, Faroese, and Elfdalian. It was also used in Scandinavia during the Middle Ages but was subsequently replaced with dh and later d. It is often transliterated as d. The lowercase version has been adopted to represent a voiced dental fricative in the International Phonetic Alphabet.
F or f is the sixth letter in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. Its name in English is ef, plural efs.
G or g is the seventh letter of the ISO basic Latin alphabet. Its name in English is gee, plural gees.
The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an alphabetic system of phonetic notation based primarily on the Latin alphabet. It was devised by the International Phonetic Association in the late 19th century as a standardized representation of the sounds of spoken language. The IPA is used by lexicographers, foreign language students and teachers, linguists, speech-language pathologists, singers, actors, constructed language creators and translators.
T or t is the 20th letter in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. Its name in English is tee, plural tees. It is derived from the Semitic letter taw via the Greek letter tau. In English, it is most commonly used to represent the voiceless alveolar plosive, a sound it also denotes in the International Phonetic Alphabet. It is the most commonly used consonant and the second most common letter in English-language texts.
X or x is the 24th and third-to-last letter in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. Its name in English is ex, plural exes.
H-dropping or aitch-dropping is the deletion of the voiceless glottal fricative or "H sound",. The phenomenon is common in many dialects of English, and is also found in certain other languages, either as a purely historical development or as a contemporary difference between dialects. Although common in most regions of England and in some other English-speaking countries, H-dropping is often stigmatized and perceived as a sign of careless or uneducated speech.
Ll/ll is a digraph which occurs in several natural languages.
In linguistics, a phonemic orthography is an orthography in which the graphemes correspond to the phonemes of the language. Natural languages rarely have perfectly phonemic orthographies; a high degree of grapheme-phoneme correspondence can be expected in orthographies based on alphabetic writing systems, but they differ in how complete this correspondence is. English orthography, for example, is alphabetic but highly nonphonemic; it was once mostly phonemic during the Middle English stage, when the modern spellings originated, but spoken English changed rapidly while the orthography was much more stable, resulting in the modern nonphonemic situation. However, because of their relatively recent modernizations when compared to English, the Italian, Turkish, Spanish, Finnish, Czech, Latvian and Polish orthographic systems come much closer to being consistent phonemic representations.
A digraph or digram is a pair of characters used in the orthography of a language to write either a single phoneme,
Ge or Ghe is a letter of the Cyrillic script. It is also known in some languages as He. It commonly represents the voiced velar plosive, like ⟨g⟩ in "gift".
Ch is a digraph in the Latin script. It is treated as a letter of its own in Chamorro, Old Spanish, Czech, Slovak, Igbo, Kazakh, Uzbek, Quechua, Guarani, Welsh, Cornish, Breton, and Belarusian Łacinka alphabets. In Vietnamese and Modern Spanish, it also used to be considered a letter for collation purposes but this is no longer common.
Th is a digraph in the Latin script. It was originally introduced into Latin to transliterate Greek loan words. In modern languages that use the Latin alphabet, it represents a number of different sounds. It is the most common digraph in order of frequency in the English language.
L is the twelfth letter of the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. Its name in English is el, plural els.
J is the tenth letter in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. Its usual name in English is jay, with a now-uncommon variant jy. When used in the International Phonetic Alphabet for the y sound, it may be called yod.
C or c is the third letter in the English and ISO basic Latin alphabets. Its name in English is cee, plural cees.
Portuguese orthography is based on the Latin alphabet and makes use of the acute accent, the circumflex accent, the grave accent, the tilde, and the cedilla to denote stress, vowel height, nasalization, and other sound changes. The diaeresis was abolished by the last Orthography Agreement. Accented letters and digraphs are not counted as separate characters for collation purposes.
In the Latin-based orthographies of many European languages, the letter ⟨g⟩ is used in different contexts to represent two distinct phonemes that in English are called hard and soft ⟨g⟩. The sound of a hard ⟨g⟩ is usually the voiced velar plosive while the sound of a soft ⟨g⟩ may be a fricative or affricate, depending on the language. In English, the sound of soft ⟨g⟩ is the affricate, as in general, giant, and gym. A (g) at the end of a word usually renders a hard (g), while if a soft rendition is intended it would be followed by a silent (e).
Gh is a digraph found in many languages.
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