--- "Ph. D." <phild@...> wrote:

> Marco Cimarosti scripsit:
> >
> > I though that h-digraphs were a relatively recent
> innovation
> > in Irish spelling: in the uncial script (which was
> ubiquitous
> > in Ireland up to at least the 1970's) aspiration
> is indicated
> > by a dot over the letter.
> H-digraphs seem to have been an alternate spelling
> in Irish
> from at least the late middle ages. I have seen
> illustrations
> of books printed in Irish from 1602 and 1616 which
> used the
> h-digraphs in uncial script instead of over-dots.
> --Ph. D.
The h-digraphs are very common in English and in
various other languages, where <h> signals a
modification (usually from a tenue or approximant into
a fricative) in sound of the previous letter to which
it's hitched. The most common h-digraphs used in
English transcription of words/names from foreign
tongues include:
ch -- IPA [tS]
dh -- IPA [D]
gh -- IPA [G]
kh -- IPA [x]
sh -- IPA [S]
th -- IPA [T]
wh -- IPA [W] (usually), although IPA [p\] in Maori
zh -- IPA [Z]
Some other digraphs include the African <kp> and <gb>,
with <ny> (IPA [J]) and <ng> (IPA [N]) for nasals.

The use of digraphs in Irish Gaelic is like this:
bh, mh -- broad, IPA [w]; slender, IPA [v]
ch -- broad, IPA [x]; slender, IPA [h] or [C]
dh, gh -- broad initial, IPA [G]; broad elsewhere,
length sign; slender initial, IPA [j]; slender
elsewhere, lengthens preceding vowel
fh -- mute (silent)
lh -- IPA [l_h]
ph -- IPA [f]
rh -- IPA [r_h]
sh, th -- IPA [h]
<s> slender -- IPA [S]
<t> slender -- IPA [T]
<d> slender -- IPA [dZ]

Thank You!

Robert Lloyd Wheelock
Augusta, ME U.S.A.

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