H: aitch or haitch?

How do you pronounced the 8th letter of the alphabet?

Aitch. Haitch sounds weird.

A friend of mine from Northern Ireland told me that was one of the guidelines (among others, including observing which newspaper/s people read in the tearoom) that he and his friends used when in the civil service in the 1980s to establish if someone were Catholic or Protestant (it being a socially forbidden question). Generally, he said, it was Catholics: haitch; Protestants: aitch.

In my experience in the Republic of Ireland, nearly everyone says haitch. In southern England, there is something of a class distinction, with middle-class people saying aitch and working class people saying haitch; however further north it appears just to be regional.

It used to horrify me that my grandmother would say “haitch” or “zed” when it ought to have been “aitch” or “zee”. Her analogous quirk when reading numbers was to say “naught” rather than “zero.”

Of course, me being ten years old to her seventy-five, she would just smile indulgently at my attempts to be Professor Higgens to her Liza Doolittle.

FWIW, she was born in Manhattan.

I didn’t know Americans ever said Zed, but a lot of them certainly said “aught” for the years of dates.

Yes, “aught” was in general use for dates. My grandmother would use “naught” when reading numbers.

She, and some of her friends, did use “zed”. They were educated in a different era I suppose. (She also told me that when she was in school, the teachers would take up collections of pennies from the pupils as contributions toward the construction of the Statue of Liberty’s base.)

I don’t think I’ve ever heard it pronounced ‘haitch’ before.

As Jjimm says it is pretty much ubiquitous in the Republic of Ireland, and I think it may also be common enough in Australia, I was wondering about elsewhere.

Yes, definitely common in Australia. It’s often considered somewhat uneducated or declasse, but i know people with university educations who say it that way.

Damn, I’m the only haitch-er so far. Said quickly enough you can’t really distinguish the two, anyway.

Report for re-education at 0900hrs.

The Northern Irish pronunciation, to my ears anyway, sounds like HEE-utch.

Why, that sounds just peachy!

H = Hotel. :slight_smile:

I listed myself as an ‘aitch’-sayer, but the other way certainly is very common in Australia, and becoming more so. ‘Haitch’ was the sort of thing the teachers would kick your butt for back in my day [/old codger] but all the kids at my daughter’s school seem to be “haitch”-ers, and nobody turns a hair.

TBH, “haitch” is more logical.

(1) I say “aitch”

(2) The “haitch” pronunciation is originally Irish, and transported itself to Australia, so that a lot of Australians say it that way.

(3) By pure coincidence, my user title [エッチ (H)] contains the Japanese way of saying H, which in romanised form would be “ecchi”. So they don’t start it with the h sound – if they did, they’d say “hecchi”.

Probably by people who also say charrrrrrrrrrrrnce, and plarrrrrrrnt.

A friend of mine used to pronounce it “haitch”. His Mother was from England, so I think we attributed it to that influence.

But when I came over to Australia to live, I was surprised to see how many here pronounce it “haitch” and a lot of other different, almost unique, pronunciations of common words, besides.



Nought (or zero, or occasionally ‘oh’, when it’s unambiguously a numeric digit from context)

Is it? Would you also say wubblewoo, sess, memm, nenn, feff, etc?

To twist Eddie Izzard a little, it’s pronounced “aitch” because it doesn’t start with a fucking “h”!

It is common in Australia though. Ugh.

Edit: Zed is different. Like aluminium the pronunciation matches the spelling in both versions. It’s not just a different way of saying the same word, they are different words.