pronunciation: Airy "H" in British English [aspirated H]

L.P. Translator

Senior Member
Italian
Hello my dear linguistic fellows,

Supposed that I was to render the following passage, would the blu "h" sound very airy or should I just remove them?



[...] that I had detached Mr Bingley from your sister, - and the other, that I had, in defiance of various claims, in defiance of honour and humanity, ruined the immediate prosperity, and blasted the prospect of Mr Wickham. - Wilfully and wantonly to have trown off the companion of my youth, the acknowledged favourite of my father, a young man who had scarcely any other dependence than on our patronage, and who had been brought up to expect its exertion...



Thank you!
Leonardo Paoletti
 
  • Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    By "airy h," do you mean "aspirated h" - that is, the letter "h" can be heard as a separate consonant?

    In that case, pronunciation varies from one word to another, and to some extent from one version of English to another. In your quotation, the "h" in honour is silent, but the others (most of which are repetitions of the same word) are aspirated (pronounced).
     

    L.P. Translator

    Senior Member
    Italian
    By "airy h," do you mean "aspirated h" - that is, the letter "h" can be heard as a separate consonant?

    In that case, pronunciation varies from one word to another, and to some extent from one version of English to another. In your quotation, the "h" in honour is silent, but the others (most of which are repetitions of the same word) are aspirated (pronounced).
    Yes, by airy H I mean an H whose sound is very, very aspirated - I've asked this question because I find it difficult reading very fast if I have to pronounce correctly every aspirated H.

    Is it possible then to reduce the amount of air used in aspirating the H or does it sound lazy and/or low class?

    Thank you,
    Leonardo Paoletti
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    In southern British English, the 'h' sound is never very aspirated, just slightly; but certainly not omitted in any of the cases you have highlighted, with the one exception of honour which is pronounced as onor.

    Your extract is from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, and the person speaking, Fitzwilliam Darcy, is one of the minor nobility. Now, it may well be that in 1810 such a man would have dropped his 'h's, I don't know (customs change over time). But certainly a person reading this today would not want to give any suggestion that Darcy was uneducated.

    A Scottish speaker might well pronounce the 'h's with greater force, but neither Austen nor Darcy were Scottish. So, slight aspiration is needed.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Remember as well that had is a grammatical word with a strong form /had/ and several possible weak forms /həd/, /əd/, /d/. (See this page from Reading University, for example.) If I was reading out the passage, I'd probably say 'I had' as /aɪ əd/ without the /h/.
     

    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    Yes, by airy H I mean an H whose sound is very, very aspirated - I've asked this question because I find it difficult reading very fast if I have to pronounce correctly every aspirated H.

    Is it possible then to reduce the amount of air used in aspirating the H or does it sound lazy and/or low class?

    Thank you,
    Leonardo Paoletti
    I don't quite believe that the amount of air is really the problem because that part of it is not very different from when you pronounce an italian word beginning with a "with a "b" where you almost stop the air with your lips and build up air speed down in the throat. The air speed and the amount of air is almost the same.
    It is obvious to me why this seems to be a problem to you. However, it may not be as difficult as it seems, because it is a matter of training a few reflexes that you probably did not think had anything to do with this.
    Speaking the "h" fluently in a sentence without much effort is a matter of the right reflexes.
    I'd suggest you famillarize yourself with some of the breathing exercises that singers or even martial artists do. That will give you more control of abdominal breathing and that is exactly what you need here.
     
    Last edited:

    L.P. Translator

    Senior Member
    Italian
    In southern British English, the 'h' sound is never very aspirated, just slightly; but certainly not omitted in any of the cases you have highlighted, with the one exception of honour which is pronounced as onor.

    Your extract is from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, and the person speaking, Fitzwilliam Darcy, is one of the minor nobility. Now, it may well be that in 1810 such a man would have dropped his 'h's, I don't know (customs change over time). But certainly a person reading this today would not want to give any suggestion that Darcy was uneducated.

    A Scottish speaker might well pronounce the 'h's with greater force, but neither Austen nor Darcy were Scottish. So, slight aspiration is needed.
    Remember as well that had is a grammatical word with a strong form /had/ and several possible weak forms /həd/, /əd/, /d/. (See this page from Reading University, for example.) If I was reading out the passage, I'd probably say 'I had' as /aɪ əd/ without the /h/.
    Thank you both! Your analysis of Mr Darcy's speech (or rather, letter) is very useful and interesting (I am a big fan of victorian style dialogues, thinking of taking up theatre lessons one of these days :D).

    I don't quite believe that the amount of air is really the problem because that part of it is not very different from when you pronounce an italian word beginning with a "with a "b" where you almost stop the air with your lips and build up air speed down in the throat. The air speed and the amount of air is almost the same.
    It is obvious to me why this seems to be a problem to you. However, it may not be as difficult as it seems, because it is a matter of training a few reflexes that you probably did not think had anything to do with this.
    Speaking the "h" fluently in a sentence without much effort is a matter of the right reflexes.
    I'd suggest you famillarize yourself with some of the breathing exercises that singers or even martial artists do. That will give you more control of abdominal breathing and that is exactly what you need here.
    That does sound like sensible advice, Sepia. Just today, I've been doing breathing exercises (I'd like to sing better, and other than that I discovered that breathing from your mouth is bad for you - so I've been breathing the wrong way all my life!). Can you advice me some exercise?

    Thank you all,
    Leonardo
     

    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    I'll come back to that. They are all pretty difficult to explain in words, but I'll see if I can find some good online-videos on the topic.
     
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