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ĥ in the fonts Code2000, Sylfaen, Pragmatica Esperanto
Ĥ is the eleventh letter of the Esperanto alphabet. Although it is written as hx in the x-system and hh in the h-system, it is H with a circumflex (ĥ) when written accented. L. L. Zamenhof, the creator of Esperanto, recommended using hh when ĥ is not available.
Ĥ was always the least used Esperanto letter/sound (though it usually has more dictionary entries than ĵ), and most of its uses are in Greek etyms, where it represented chi. Since the latter is pronounced [k] in most languages, neologistic equivalents soon appeared in which "ĥ" was replaced by "k", such as teĥniko → tekniko ("technology") and ĥemio → kemio ("chemistry"). Some other ĥ-replacements followed unusual patterns, such as ĥino → ĉino ("Chinese [person]").
These additions and replacements came very early and were in general use by World War I. Since then the imminent demise of ĥ has been often discussed, but has never really happened. There are very few modern ĥ-replacements, notably koruso for ĥoro ("chorus"). Some ĥ-words are preferred to existing replacements (old or new), such as ĥaoso vs. kaoso ("chaos").
Several words commonly use ĥ, particularly those of non-Greek etymology (ĥano ("khan"), ĥoto ("jota"), Liĥtenŝtejno ("Lichtenstein"), etc.) or those in which there is another word that uses "k" in that context. The latter include
- eĥo ("echo") — eko ("beginning")
- ĉeĥo ("Czech") — ĉeko ("bank check")
- ĥoro ("chorus") — koro ("heart"), horo ("hour")
An Italian italo disco singer from the 80s had the ĥ in his stage name "Cĥato".
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