THE MIDDLE ENGLISH CONSONANT "H"

/h/

SOURCE: OE /h/

ME /h/ had three different realizations, or allophones, depending upon its phonetic environment.

1. Voiceless velar fricative--initially before vowels and the consonants /l/, /r/, /n/, and /w/. Example: hand "hand."

REFLEX: EME /h/

2. Voiceless velar fricative, but more forcefully articulated than (1)--like ch in Modern High German ach. After back vowels. Example: through "through."

REFLEX: EME /f/ [in final position]

3. Voiceless palatal fricative--after front vowels. Example: right "right."

REFLEX: EME /f/ [in final position]

Except in final position (where they became EME /f/), allophones (2) and (3) disappeared in most dialects during EME.

SPELLING: h, gh, 3

SOUND

CHANGES AFFECTING ME /h/

Loss in consonant clusters

Loss in unstressed position