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H (named aitch or haitch , plural aitches)"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. is the eighth letter in the ISO basic Latin alphabet.


History
N24
The original Semitic letter most likely represented the voiceless pharyngeal fricative (). The form of the letter probably stood for a fence or posts.

The eta 'Η' in Archaic Greek alphabets still represented (later on it came to represent a long vowel, ). 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 was adopted with its original sound value .

While Etruscan and had as a , almost all Romance languages lost the sound—Romanian later re-borrowed the phoneme from its neighbouring Slavic languages, and developed a secondary from , before losing it again; various Spanish dialects have developed as an of or in most Spanish-speaking countries, and various dialects of Portuguese use it as an allophone of . 'H' is also used in many spelling systems in digraphs and trigraphs, such as 'ch', which represents in Spanish, Galician, Old Portuguese and , in and modern Portuguese, in , French and English, in , , , Slovak, one native word of English and a few loanwords into English, and in German.


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 nonstandard in England. It is, however, a feature of .

The perceived name of the letter affects the choice of indefinite article before beginning with H: for example "an H-bomb" or "a H-bomb". The pronunciation may be a formed 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 Ipod", page 254. Routledge, 1990.

The haitch pronunciation of h has spread in England, being used by approximately 24% of English people born since 1982John C Wells, Longman Pronunciation Dictionary, page 360, Pearson, Harlow, 2008 and polls continue to show this pronunciation becoming more common among younger native speakers. Despite this increasing number, the pronunciation without the sound is still considered to be standard in England, although the pronunciation with is also attested as a legitimate variant.

Authorities disagree about the history of the letter's name. The Oxford English Dictionary says the original name of the letter was in Latin; this became in Vulgar Latin, passed into English via Old French , and by Middle English was pronounced . The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language derives it from French hache from Latin haca or hic. 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 when reinterpreted for the latter ..., H, L,... would imply a pronunciation for H.


Use in writing systems

English
In English, occurs as a single-letter (being either or representing the voiceless glottal fricative () and in various digraphs, such as , , , or ), (silent, , , , or ), (), (), (), ( or ), (In many dialects, and have merged). The letter is silent in a , 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 but not ) and vehicle. Initial is often not pronounced in the weak form of some 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 ). It was formerly common for an rather than a to be used as the indefinite article before a word beginning with in an unstressed syllable, as in "an historian", but use of a'' is now more usual (see ).


Other languages
In the , the name of the letter is pronounced . Following a vowel, it often silently indicates that the vowel is long: In the word erhöhen ('heighten'), the second is mute for most speakers outside of Switzerland. In 1901, a 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 Theater ('theater') and Thron ('throne'), which continue to be spelled with even after the last German spelling reform.

In Spanish and Portuguese, ("hache" in Spanish, pronounced , or agá in Portuguese, pronounced or ) is a silent letter with no pronunciation, as in hijo ('son') and húngaro ('Hungarian'). The spelling reflects an earlier pronunciation of the sound . It is sometimes pronounced with the value , in some regions of Andalusia, Extremadura, Canarias, Cantabria and the Americas in the beginning of some words. also appears in the digraph , which represents in Spanish and northern Portugal, and in oral traditions that merged both sounds (the latter originarily represented by instead) e.g. in most of the Portuguese language and some Spanish-speaking places, prominently Chile, as well as and in Portuguese, whose spelling is inherited from .

In French, the name of the letter is pronounced . 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" , 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 is called h aspiré ("", 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 was added to disambiguate the and semivowel pronunciations before the introduction of the distinction between the letters and : huit (from uit , ultimately from Latin octo ), huître (from uistre , ultimately from Greek through Latin ostrea'').

In Italian, has no value. Its most important uses are in the digraphs 'ch' and 'gh' , as well as to differentiate the spellings of certain short words that are , for example some forms of the verb avere ('to have') (such as hanno, 'they have', vs. anno, 'year'), and in short ( oh, ehi).

Some languages, including , , Hungarian, and , use as a breathy voiced glottal fricative , often as an allophone of otherwise voiceless 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 ; 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, is also commonly used for , which is otherwise written with the Cyrillic letter .

In , is not considered an independent letter, except for a very few non-native words, however placed after a consonant is known as a "séimhiú" and indicates of that consonant; 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 and the digraph always represent .


Other systems
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 represents the voiceless glottal fricative, and the small capital form represents the voiceless epiglottal fricative (or trill). With a bar, minuscule is used for a voiceless pharyngeal fricative. Specific to the IPA, a hooked is used for a voiced glottal fricative, and a superscript is used to represent aspiration.


Related characters

Descendants and related characters in the Latin alphabet
  • H with : Ĥ ĥ Ȟ ȟ Ħ ħ Ⱨ ⱨ ẖ ẖ Ḥ ḥ Ḣ ḣ Ḧ ḧ Ḫ ḫ ꞕ
  • IPA-specific symbols related to H: ꟸ
  • 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
  • ʮ and ʯ : Turned H with fishhook and turned H with fishhook and tail are used in Sino-Tibetanist linguistics
  • Ƕ ƕ : Latin letter , derived from a ligature of the digraph hv, and used to transliterate the letter 𐍈 (which represented the sound hʷ)
  • Ⱶ ⱶ :


Ancestors, siblings and descendants in other alphabets
  • 𐤇 : Semitic letter , from which the following symbols derive
    • Η η : letter Eta, from which the following symbols derive
      • 𐌇 : Old Italic H, the ancestor of modern Latin H
        • : letter , which is probably a descendant of Old Italic H
      • Һ һ : letter , which derives from Latin H
      • : letter haal


Derived signs, symbols and abbreviations
  • :
  • ℏ : reduced Planck constant
  • ℍ: Double-struck capital H


Computing codes
1 and all encodings based on ASCII, including the DOS, Windows, ISO-8859 and Macintosh families of encodings.


Other representations

See also
  • American Sign Language grammar
  • List of hieroglyphs/H


External links

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