H is the eighth letter in the
Latin alphabet. Its name in both British and American Englishis spelled aitch ["H" "Oxford English Dictionary," 2nd edition (1989); "Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged" (1993); "aitch", op. cit.] (pronEng|eɪtʃ) in most dialects, though in Irish, Australian, Singaporean, South Indian English and very occasionally British Englishit is haitch IPA|/heɪtʃ/. (See the discussion below on the two pronunciations of the name of this letter.) In the , this symbol is used to represent two sounds. Its lowercase form, IPA| [h] , represents the voiceless glottal fricativeor 'aspirate', and its small capital form, IPA| [ʜ] , represents the voiceless epiglottal fricative.
The Semitic letter ח (Unicode|ḥêṯ) most likely represented the
voiceless pharyngeal fricative(IPA2|ħ). The form of the letter probably stood for a fence or posts. The early Greek H stood for IPA|/h/, but later on, this letter, "eta" (Η, η), became a long vowel, IPA|/ɛː/. (In Modern Greek, this phonemehas merged with IPA|/i/, similar to the English development where Middle English "ea" IPA|/ɛː/ and "ee" IPA|/eː/ came to be both pronounced as IPA|/i:/.)
Latinhad IPA|/h/ as a phoneme, but almost all Romance languageslost the sound — Romanian later re-borrowed the IPA|/h/ phoneme from its neighbouring Slavic languages, Spanish developed a secondary IPA|/h/ from F, then lost it again, and now has developed an IPA| [h] allophoneof IPA|/x/ in some Spanish-speaking countries. In German, "h" is typically used as a vowel lengthener, as well as the phoneme IPA|/h/. This may be because IPA|/h/ was sometimes lost between vowels in German. Hence, H is used in many spelling systems in digraphs and trigraphs, such as "ch" in Spanish and English IPA|/tʃ/, French IPA|/ʃ/ from IPA|/tʃ/, Italian IPA|/k/, German IPA|/χ/, Czech and Slovak IPA|/x/.
Usage in English
The name of the letter
In most dialects of English, the name for the letter is pronounced IPA|/eɪtʃ/ and spelled aitch [http://m-w.com/dictionary/aitch] (or occasionally eitch). Pronunciation IPA|/heɪtʃ/ (and hence spelling haitch) is usually considered to be h-adding and hence nonstandard. However it is standard in
Hiberno-English, Singaporean English, "Haitch" is also used in parts of Northern England. In Northern Irelandit is a shibbolethas Protestantschools teach "aitch" and Catholics "haitch". [ [http://www.arts.gla.ac.uk/ScotLit/ASLS/JCorbett.html The Association for Scottish Literary Studies] ] This is also indicative of Catholic school teaching in Australia. The perceived name of the letter affects the choice of indefinite article before initialisms beginning with H: for example "an HTML page" or "a HTML page". The pronunciation IPA|/heɪtʃ/ may be a hypercorrectionformed by analogy with the names of the other letters of the alphabet, most of which include the sound they represent. [Todd, L. & Hancock I.: "International English Usage", page 254. Routledge, 1990.]
Authorities disagree about the history of the letter's name. The
Oxford English Dictionarysays the original name of the letter was IPA|/aha/; this became IPA|/aka/ in Latin, passed into English "via" Old French IPA|/atʃ/, and by Middle English was pronounced IPA|/aːtʃ/. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Languagederives it from French "hache" from Latin "haca" or "hic", from which it can be argued that the pronunciation IPA|/eɪtʃ/ is a result of h-dropping.
H occurs as a single-letter
grapheme(with value IPA|/h/ or silent) and in various digraphs, such as "ch" (IPA|/tʃ/, French IPA|/ʃ/, Greek and Italian IPA|/k/, German & Scots IPA|/x/), "gh" (silent, IPA|/g/, or IPA|/f/) , "ph" (Greek words with IPA|/f/), "rh" (Greek words with IPA|/r/), "sh" (IPA|/ʃ/), "th" (either IPA|/θ/ like "thin" or IPA|/ð/ like "then"), "wh" (either IPA|/w/, IPA|/ʍ/or IPA|/f/: see wine-whine merger). In transcriptions of other writing systems, "zh" may occur (as in Russian Doctor Zhivago); this is generally pronounced IPA|/ʒ/ in English, although this rendition is not necessarily faithful to the sound in the original language (as in the case of pinyintranscriptions).
H is silent in a
syllable rime, as in "ah", "ohm", "dahlia", "cheetah", "pooh-poohed".H is often silent in the weak form of some function wordsbeginning with H, including "had", "has", "have", "he", "her", "him", "his".H is silent in some words of Romance origin:
*Initially in "heir", "honest", "honour", "hour"; for
American Englishusually also "herb", and sometimes "homage"; as well as non-anglicized loanwordssuch as "hors-d'oeuvres"
*Internally in "silhouette", "chihuahua", and often "piranha"
*For some speakers, also in an initial unstressed syllable, as in "an historic occasion", "an hotel".
*After "ex" when x has value IPA|/gz/, as "exhaust".
*For many speakers, after a stressed vowel and before an unstressed, as "annihilate", "vehicle" (but not "vehicular").
Usage in Spanish
In Spanish, H is a silent letter with no pronunciation, as in "hijo" IPA| [ˈixo] ('son'), "hola" IPA| [ˈola] ('hello'), and "hábil" IPA| [ˈaβil] ('skillful'). The spelling reflects an earlier pronunciation of IPA| [h] did exist. The IPA| [h] sound exists in a number of dialects in Spanish, either as a syllable-final allophone of IPA|/s/ (for example Andalusia, Argentina or Cuba - vg. "esto" IPA| [ˈeht̪o] 'this' , or as a dialectal realization of Standard IPA|/x/ (for example Mexican "caja" IPA| [ˈkaha] 'box' ).
Usage in French
In the French language, the name of the letter is pronounced IPA|/aʃ/.
The French language classifies words that begin with this letter in two ways that must be learned to use French properly, 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 singular nouns get the article "le" or "la" replaced by the sequence "l"'. Similarly, words such as "un", whose pronunciation would elide onto the following word would do so for a word with "h muet".
For example "Le" "hébergement " becomes "L'hébergement".
The other way is called "h aspiré", or "aspirated "h" (though it is still not aspirated) and is treated as a phantom consonant. Hence masculine nouns get the "le", separated from the noun with a bit of a glottal stop. There is no elision with such a word; the preceding word is kept separate by similar means.
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"). As is generally the case with French, there are numerous exceptions.
In some cases, an "h" was added to disambiguate the IPA| [v] and semivowel IPA| [ɥ] pronunciations, before the introduction of the distinction between the letters
Vand U: "huit" (from "uit", ultimately from Latin "octo"), "huître" (from "uistre", ultimately from Greek through Latin "ostrea").
Some of these distinctions have been preserved in English through Anglo-French: "an honour" vs. "a harp".
Dictionaries mark those words that have this second kind of "h" with a preceding mark, either an
asterisk, a dagger, or a little circle lower than a degree-symbol.
Usage in German
In the German language, the name of the letter is pronounced IPA|/haː/.
German language, this letter is used in the digraph "ch" and the trigraph "sch" to indicate completely different sounds. Following a vowel, it often silently indicates that the vowel is long: In the word _de. "erhöhen" "heighten", only the first represents IPA|/h/.
In 1901, there was a
spelling reformwhich eliminated the silent in nearly all instances of in native German words such as "thun" "to do" or "Thür" "door". It has been left unchanged in words derived from Greek, such as _de. "Theater" "theater" and _de. "Thron" "throne", which continue to be spelled with <th> even after the last German spelling reform.
Usage in other languages
Unicodethe capital H is codepoint U+0048 and the lower caseh is U+0068.
ASCIIcode for capital H is 72 and for lowercase h is 104; or in binary 01001000 and 01101000, correspondingly.
EBCDICcode for capital H is 200 and for lowercase h is 136.
numeric character references in HTMLand XMLare "&#72;" and "&#104;" for upper and lower case respectively.
af:H als:H ar:H arc:H ast:H az:H zh-min-nan:H bs:H ca:H cs:H co:H cy:H da:H de:H et:H el:H es:H eo:H eu:H fa:H fur:H gan:H gd:H gl:H ko:H hr:H ilo:H is:H it:H he:H ka:H kw:H sw:H ht:H la:H lv:H lt:H hu:H mzn:H ms:H nah:H ja:H no:H nn:H nrm:H pl:H pt:H ro:H qu:H se:H scn:H simple:H sk:H sl:H fi:H sv:H tl:H th:H vi:H tr:H vo:H yo:H zh-yue:H bat-smg:H zh:H
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