Tuesday, November 17, 2020

What is the Significance of the Letter H?

The letter "H" is a consonant in the Latin alphabet. It is classified as hard, which means it is produced without allowing air to escape freely through the vocal tract (unlike /b/ or /d/, for example). The symbol in most alphabets derived from the Greek capital letter epsilon (Ε), which was reputedly shaped like an H. In the Early Cyrillic alphabet, Ѕ ("Zh"), inherited from Ancient Greek via Serbo-Croatian, was used to express 'hard' consonants.

The letter H has, for a long time, been considered the hardest consonant to pronounce correctly. It is often associated with various slang terms such as "h"ard (as in hard), "h"eavy and "Hells Bells", all of which are used to indicate difficulty or effort.

In phonetics, the symbol H is used to represent voiceless pharyngeal fricative.

In the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), voiceless ɦ is used to represent this sound. In English, it is most similar to a voiceless glottal fricative.

The letter H is used to represent a voiceless epiglottal fricative in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA).

In English, it may be pronounced as either /h/ or /ɦ/. In phonetics, however, it is similar to a voiceless velar fricative.

hurley symbolism

H is the eighth letter of the English alphabet and a letter in many other alphabets, some of which were derived from or influenced by the Greek alphabet. In Semitic languages such as Hebrew and Arabic it usually represents a voiceless pharyngeal fricative (aspirated "h") sound, like the 'ch' in Scottish loch or German Buch. It evolved from an earlier Proto-Semitic "ħ" sound value; in fact most Latin alphabets contained only this glyph for 'H', not even denoting its aspirated value except with spelling conventions surrounding words containing it.

It took several centuries for the letter to become accepted in Greek and Latin-alphabet based alphabets, which may suggest that it had a non-native sound value. (Indeed, some still use an H with a bar through its middle.) For example, there is no evidence that ancient Greek speakers ever used the 'H' in their native language. In other syllabic scripts such as Linear B or Japanese hiragana/katakana, however, there are many words beginning with this digraph.

The letter is named 'heta' in Greek, a term also used by later Latin writers. In English it's called the aspirate or aspirated H to distinguish it from the voiceless variant; for example: "h" as in "hot" vs. aspirate "H" as in "hearth". The Modern Hebrew and Arabic alphabets are both derived from Aramaic writing and thus share an origin with that Semitic language - indeed, they still write essentially the same way today.

In the Latin alphabet, the letter is derived from Greek's 'heta', which may have come from an Egyptian hieroglyph. In turn, both these alphabets are ultimately derived from a Proto-Sinaitic script that was developed by ancient Semitic peoples.

H represents a voiced fricative in many languages, often an alveolar approximant. Albanian and Modern Greek both use 'H' to represent /h/, especially at the beginning of words.

In the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), it represents the voiced fricative [h] and is called "eta." The Cyrillic letter 'H' is not related to this symbol, but originates from the Greek letter epsilon. In English, H often represents a voiceless glottal fricative after an initial vowel; for example in 'hard' or 'house', though some dialects as well as many other languages do not have this sound at all. In such cases, H may be silent when it follows an A: compare hard and hearth.

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