--- In qalam@yahoogroups.com, Marco Cimarosti <marco.cimarosti@...>
> Richard Wordingham wrote:
> > Non-Latinness!
> Eh? :-)

> > [..]
> > English <wh> is a bit of a problem, as <w> isn't Latin,
> <W> is not uncommon in medieval Latin, as e.g. in the proper name
> "Willhelmus". But in older documents it is still spelled <uu>,
> explains the English name of the letter.

I did wonder if <w> could be considered as a Latin letter for the
application of the rule.

> > but then it's also curious in that it is, at least in places,
> > I think <wh> is best regarded as a degeneration of <hw>,
> I think in fact that <hw> (or, well, <huu>) in place of modern
<wh> is
> widely attested in ancient documents.

<hw> is the Old English spelling. I'm not sure if there is an
intermediate spelling with true <w> (or <uu>) instead of wynn. I
think Early Middle English <lh> (as in <lhud> 'loud') replaced Old
English <hl>. (It seems that <lh> was long an alternative to <ll>
in Welsh for the lateral voiceless fricative.)

> > As to English <sh> and <th>, I could pedanticaly suggest
that 'h' in
> > <sh> and <th> represents half-way Irish-style lenition for 'sh'
> > and 'th' - there are lenition sequences [s] > [S] > [h] and [t]
> > [T] > [h]. However, it doesn't work for soft 'ch'.
> I though that h-digraphs were a relatively recent innovation in
> spelling

I was referring to the phonetic significance; I wasn't suggesting
that the usage came from Irish. (I think the Irish influence is the
barring of d to form <ð> and a similar barring of b in Old Saxon.)

> These Greek sounds where originally aspirated stops, so the
<stop+H> was
> quite motivated. When these sounds evolved to fricatives in Greek,
> followed suit, as is demonstrated by the fact that <PH> is now
read [f] in
> all European languages. The Latin spelling of these Greek
fricatives must
> have been a became precedents for using <H> together with any
letter to form
> spelling for new sounds.

> E.g., the spelling <dh> for [ð] is already present in the Sarments
> Strasbourg, which are AFAIK the oldest sample of written French
and German.

At that point, <h> is still turning stops into fricatives, not
unlike Hebrew raphe.