All that’s left to do now is convince the other 50% of the proletariat/bourgeoisie (the half that have been insisting on the dreaded ‘haitch’) that they’re wrong. Yep, the correct pronunciation is ‘aitch’. A simple, useful little letter that has somehow become embroiled in a superfluous war regarding issues of pronunciation. That’s also how to spell the word that describes the correct way to pronounce H, in case you want to play it in scrabble.
And by the way, many will argue that H should be pronounced haitch because words like hospital, house and Hampstead Heath all begin with a ‘huh’ sound. (See the clip here, colloquially re-titled Grammar Nazi.)
Why do People Say Haitch?
No, sorry to all you guys out there who disagree, but the correct pronunciation of the letter H is aitch. Aitch is not posh. Thankfully, we have not reached that day yet!
At the risk of upsetting a huge percentage of the general populace, not to mention close personal friends, this article is going to examine the proper way to say the letter H. This is not an issue of the north/south divide. The comedian David Mitchell, an infamous dogmatic on points of grammar, has written a brilliant sketch summing up the unstoppable tsunami of rage that can take control of the pedant’s mind in the presence of haitch. It’s correct.
“Aitch is what posh people say, so I’m going to say haitch.”
Sources: Any modern dictionary worth its salt.
“Haitch is what I was taught and it’s what I’m going to say.”
As a language, English is constantly evolving, so it’s true to say that haitch might, one day, become acceptable. However, the Oxford English Dictionary describes it simply and succinctly thus:
So, let’s set the record straight. the name of the letter H.
Only it’s not that simple is it. Aitch is simply correct.
Fair enough, as long as you know you’re wrong.
Further reading: Grammar – Starting a Sentence With Or, And or But.
Wrong. First broadcast during episode 1, series 4 of That Mitchell and Webb Look, pity the poor office lackey who pronounces the company acronym HHH as haitch, haitch, haitch. He meets a swift and unfortunate end. Londoners, in particular, are prone to dropping aitches – as in “the train stops at ‘enley, ‘averstock and ‘ereford.” They also have a tendency to insert an H where it isn’t required – as in “we ‘ardly hever run out of happles”. Simple enough, huh?
Some Common Misconceptions About H:
aitch – n. Goodness, even teachers pronounce it wrong, so it’s little wonder that H is such a common cause of irritation. And seeing as you’re reading this short guide, it just might have stirred up one too many friendly arguments for you too.
H is Aitch
Consult any dictionary and you will find aitch is described therein (particularly useful if you like to win at bets). This over-correcting is possibly what led to the invention of haitch.. Aitch is what southerners say.”
So there we have it. But what of hour and honourable? They don’t begin with a ‘huh’.
“I say haitch because I’m from the north. And even if the English speaking world eventually comes to accept ‘haitch’ (you won’t currently find it in the dictionary), it will always grate on those of us who know it should be aitch.
The reason H is such a widely mispronounced letter is possibly because dropping your aitches is such a well known grammatical error