In most varieties of modern Spanish, the letter “h” is silent and has no sound. However, this has not always been the case.
The sound of the letter “h” in Spanish has been gradually disappearing over the centuries. In medieval Spanish, the letter “h” was pronounced as an aspirated consonant, similar to the “h” sound in English. This pronunciation was influenced by Latin, in which the letter “h” was also pronounced.
However, during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the sound of the letter “h” began to weaken and disappear in many Spanish dialects. This was likely due to a combination of factors, including the influence of Arabic and other languages spoken in Spain, as well as changes in pronunciation patterns within Spanish itself.
By the 18th century, the sound of the letter “h” had disappeared in most varieties of Spanish, although it is still pronounced in some dialects, such as those spoken in parts of Spain and the Canary Islands. In standard modern Spanish, the letter “h” is only pronounced in a small number of words that are of foreign origin or have a special historical significance.
For context, the letter H is generally silent in many Romance languages, including:
- French: The letter H is silent in most words, except in some loanwords or words of Germanic origin.
- Italian: The letter H is always silent in Italian.
- Spanish: The letter H is silent in Spanish, except in some loanwords or words of Greek origin.
- Portuguese: The letter H is silent in Portuguese, except in some loanwords or words of Germanic or Celtic origin.
- Catalan: The letter H is always silent in Catalan.
- Occitan: The letter H is usually silent in Occitan, except in some words of Germanic or Greek origin.