Ĥ

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Ĥ, or ĥ is a consonant in Esperanto orthography, representing a voiceless velar fricative [x] or voiceless uvular fricative [χ]. Its name in Esperanto is ĥo (pronounced /xo/).

It is also used in the revised Demers/Blanchet/St Onge orthography for Chinook Jargon.[1]

In the case of the minuscule, some fonts place the circumflex centred above the entire base letter h, others over the riser of the letter, and others over the shoulder.

H-circumflex.png
ĥ in the fonts Code2000, Sylfaen, Pragmatika 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.

Reported demise[edit]

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 teĥnikotekniko ("technology") and ĥemiokemio ("chemistry"). Some other ĥ-replacements followed unusual patterns, such as ĥinoĉino ("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")

Other uses[edit]

An Italian italo disco singer from the 80s had the ĥ in his stage name "Cĥato".[1]

In quantum mechanics, Ĥ is sometimes used to represent the Hamiltonian operator, especially in the Wheeler–DeWitt equation.

See also[edit]

  1. ^ Lang, George (2009). Making Wawa: The Genesis of Chinook Jargon. UBC Press. p. 216. ISBN 978-0774815277.