0

This is what I found on Wikipedia for h aspiré:

One part of the major phonological changes between Latin and Early Old French was the loss of the consonant /h/, which would later return with the introduction of Germanic words into the language. The aspirate h ceased to be pronounced once more in either the 16th or the 17th century, but some grammarians kept insisting for it be pronounced into the early part of the twentieth century.

Now, I checked the book that was cited as a reference but didn't manage to find the answer to the question as to why did the French stop pronouncing the h sound? Also does the bolded part mean that those words which are today pronounced with h aspiré were then pronounced with h muet?

Merci d'avance.

1

Don't confuse the fact an h is "aspirated" or not, and the fact an h is pronounced or not.

Even when not pronounced like in standard modern French, the aspirated h still exists because of its side effects.

For example homme has a non aspirated h so is pronounced exactly like if written omme thus un homme is almost pronounced like "un nomme", because of the liaison.

There is such an h in the English hour (An hour); compare with house (A house).

In house, the h is voiced as a consonant. This consonant no more exists1 in French. When the h is aspirated, it just prevents the liaison to be realized:

Un héros is pronounced like "un éro", never "un néro".

Why did the French stop pronouncing the h sound?

I guess because dropping it was a simplification that wasn't breaking the comprehensibility.

Does the bolded part mean that those words which are today pronounced with h aspiré were then pronounced with h muet?

No, that means aspirated h ceased again to be voiced.


See also: How can we distinguish "H-muet" or "H-aspiré"? and Understanding an extract on h-aspiré

1We still pronounce the h sound in a small set of words. See the linked questions.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.