H (named aitch or, regionally, 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.
The Greek alphabet 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 Euboean alphabet was adopted with its original sound value .
While Etruscan and Latin had as a phoneme, almost all Romance languages lost the sound—Romanian later re-borrowed the phoneme from its neighbouring Slavic languages, and Spanish language developed a secondary from , before losing it again; various Spanish dialects have developed as an allophone 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 English language, in French language and modern Portuguese, in Italian language, French and English, in German language, Czech language, Polish language, Slovak, one native word of English and a few loanwords into English, and in German.
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 hypercorrection 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 1982,John 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. 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 when reinterpreted for the latter ..., H, L,... would imply a pronunciation for H.
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 Occitan language.
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 ("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 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 Phonology 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 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 language, Slovak language, Hungarian, and Finnish language, 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 Harghita; 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 Irish language, 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 lenition 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 .
In Basque language, 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 Standard 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 Basque) 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.