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H or h (pronounced: [ haː ]) is the eighth letter of the classical and modern Latin alphabet . It is a consonant (even if it is silent under certain conditions). It has an average frequency of 4.76 percent in German texts. This makes it the ninth most common letter in German texts.

The letter H in the finger alphabet

The finger alphabet for the deaf or hard of hearing represents the letter H with the closed hand pointing towards the body, while the index and middle fingers point parallel away from the body.


Fence (protosinaitic) Phoenician chet Greek Heta / Eta Etruscan H Etruscan H Latin H
Fence (protosinaitic) Phoenician chet Greek Heta / Eta Two variants of the Etruscan H Latin H

Even in the Protosinaite script , the letter represented a fence. In the Phoenician alphabet , this symbol became the letter Chet . The Phoenicians assigned to the letter the phonetic value [ħ], the voiceless pharyngeal fricative - a kind of lightweight H .

In the Greek alphabet , the letter was first adopted as Heta . It stood for the sound value [h]. In the Phoenician alphabet these sound values ​​were originally assigned to the letter He, but the Greeks adopted this letter as [e]. Up to the classical Greek, the name and sound value of the letter changed again: The Heta became the Eta , it now stood for [eː].

In the Etruscan alphabet, the H was taken over in its archaic form as a rectangle divided in the middle. The Etruscans knew the sound [h] and adopted the letter with this sound value. The Romans adopted the H from the Etruscans, but adapted the appearance of the Greek letter.


In German, the H is used in its basic function as a consonant letter to represent the sound [h] , which, however, only occurs in the syllable before vowels (hand, fetch, hitchhiker). In some words, the H was spoken earlier, but is now silent in most varieties (see, go, high). This affected spelling by marking long vowels never followed by a spoken H with a written h (year, cattle, railway). Furthermore, the h in German is used in the digraph ch and the trigraph sch .

In English, the H also stands for the sound [h], but is not spoken in some words at the beginning (hour, honor). In popular phonetic spelling, it is used as the stretch h in German (e.g. <ah> for [ ]). It also occurs in the digraphs ch, th and sh.

In Romance languages such as Spanish, Italian or French, the letter h is generally not pronounced. But there used to be an h (“h aspiré”) to be pronounced in French, which has now also fallen silent, but otherwise still behaves like a consonant. In Italian, all the variants of Galloital and Tuscan know the spoken letter h.


" H The eighth letter of the Latin as well as the Gothic alphabet (in the latter also with the numerical value 8), the seventh of the Old Norse runic alphabet [...]. In the current High German language, the h is partly the purest breath (the h is a sharp breath, as one breathes into the hand [...]), partly it no longer has any phonetic value, insofar as it (e.g. in seeing, blowing, pulling, bloom, high, flea) has become mute, sometimes it is only a sign of the stretching of a vocals, not even with etymological values. "

See also

Web links

Commons : H  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: h  - Explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: H  - Explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. H.. In: Jacob Grimm , Wilhelm Grimm (Hrsg.): German dictionary . tape 10 : H, I, J - (IV, 2nd division). S. Hirzel, Leipzig 1877, Sp. 1–10 ( woerterbuchnetz.de ).