That archive doesn't answer the question, though. I assume it has something to do with the fact that Ukrainian Г is /ɦ/, like a Czech h. Somewhere along the line, it would seem, it was decided that Latin /h/ was closer to Г than to Х in whichever Slavic language started this convention, and it was adopted into other languages, including Russian, from there. It would be nice to know the details. — kwami (talk) 21:19, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
That also doesn't answer the question of why the preference arose. HenryFlower 11:01, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
Here's some more online commentary. I don't how authoritative it is. I'm guessing it had the same basic cause as why many English-speakers pronounce words like "loch" and "Mach" and "Bach" as /lock/ and /mahk/ and /bahk/ - it's the closest sound they know how to make. Russians have no experience of the H sound, so they approximate it, and in some cases their G is just as good a choice as their Kh (X). When it comes to names of historical people, a particular pronunciation has become the norm in each case, and the spelling reflects that. -- ♬ Jack of Oz ♬ [your turn] 11:40, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
In pre-Petrine Russia in the high-style pronunciation the letter Г was pronounced as voiced velar fricative. Then in certain territories "pronunciation diglossia" was possible when a person was speaking in high and ceremonial situations, for example, in church service or in the tsar's palace, he pronounced Г as fricative. And when he was speaking, for example, with his friend in the tavern or with his wife at home, he pronounced Г as plosive /g/. Though it was less widespread as almost in all East Slavic territory Proto-Slavic *g became fricative. Only in Moscow and the territories north to it (including Novgorod) *g remains plosive, and already in Tula, Vyazma or Ryazan it was (and sometimes still is) fricative in everyday speech. So you can see that there was a long established "official" norm for the pronunciation of Г as fricative. And they chose by some reason to represent Latin and European H with it. I don't exactly know why it was Г /ɣ/ and not Х /x/ as the latter is phonetically closer – it both fricative and voiceless, but Г /ɣ/ is voiced. Nevertheless this tradition is from the earliest times. Already in Novgorod birch-bark letters of the 14th century Finnish words with H were written with Г. In the 18th century the pronunciation norm of the high style was shifting to Moscow colloquial speech and by the middle or the end of the century Г became pronounced as plosive /g/. Though in spite of this shift the tradition was too strong so all Greco-Latin and European borrowing of the 18th-19th centuries have Г in the place of H. Only recently European names with H became transliterated with Х (Alfred Hitchcock is Альфред Хичкок), but Greco-Latin words still have Г by tradition as well as old borrowings like Генри, Гамбург, Гайд-Парк (Henry, Hamburg, Hyde Park).
And, by the way, "pronunciation diglossia" has turned upside down – today exactly in the north the colloquial low style pronunciation of Г is identical to the established norm, and in the south fricative Г is treated as the sign of rural or provincial speech.--Luboslov Yezykin (talk) 04:47, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
I'm not sure if this could possibly have anything to do with it, but Slavic languages which use the letter H use a voiced H, not a voiceless one. So perhaps plosive [g], fricatives [ɣ] and [ɦ] were all allophones of the same phoneme somewhere at some time? - filelakeshoe 06:57, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
Read my explanation above. A type of "register allophony" exists in the Russian territory (formerly it was in the north, today it is in the south). It is unique to Russian. In other Slavic languages where plosive and fricative co-exist, they are different phonemes, /g/ being used for foreign borrowings.--Luboslov Yezykin (talk) 01:24, 12 May 2012 (UTC)
From French_presidential_election,_2012: "As a way to circumvent the law, code names were assigned: "Flanby" for Hollande, "le nain" (midget) for Sarkozy, Titanic for Marine Le Pen, or Tomate for Mélenchon, as well as other humorous names and metaphors were also used such as Holland, Morocco, Hungary."
I don't know any French, but I still got the Holland pun. What about Morocco and Hungary?Anonymous.translator (talk) 22:24, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
Sarkozy's father is Hungarian, and Mélenchon grew up in Morocco. Lesgles (talk) 22:30, 6 May 2012 (UTC)