Pronounced as ‘aitch’, the seemingly high-value letter in Scrabble and Words with Friends, letter H happens to be a rather common letter. As per the statistics speaking, it is the eighth most commonly used letter in the English language. A reason for this is its use with other consonants like w, c, s and g in the English language.
One of the most common among these pairing is ‘th’ used widely with numeric values. Second to this comes the 3 letter combination ‘the’, used abundantly in English literature.
In English language, letter H either occurs as silent or represents the voiceless glottal fricative (/h/). Some words where H is silent might be ah, ohm, dahlia, cheetah, pooh-poohed, hour, honest etc. It was common for the article an to be used with H rather than a, for example an historian.
Letter H first appeared in Northern Semitic languages and is now used to represent the Hebrew letter heth. Due to the influence of French on Middle English, the letter H kept moving in and out of words. Take the word author for an example, which comes from the French word autour. Around the 1500s the scribes added the letter H to the word and hence the term author was born.
Fun Fact about the letter H
This might come as a surprise to many but as Michael Rosen, the author of Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story, H might be the most hated letter in Britain. Britishers are known for famously using two different pronunciations for the letter H, i.e., ‘aitch’ and ‘haitch’. The pronunciation of the letter, haitch, was spread in England, religiously used by about 24% of English people who were born since 1982. People who used the pronunciation ‘aith’ were considered to be from lower classes, adding to the fact that pronunciation was used to differentiate Catholics from the Protestants in Northern Ireland.