On Sun, Jan 11, 2004 at 01:27:21AM +0100, Christophe Grandsire wrote:
> Actually, things are murkier than just "<h> became silent and that's it"
> :)) .

So I see.  Thanks!

> French is maybe the only language to have such a "negative
> phoneme", i.e. something which is unpronounced but does influence
> pronunciation :) ).

Otherwise silent letters affect pronunciation in many languages.
Italian is similar to French, for instance, in that <h> prevents adjacent
vowels from merging into a diphthong: <ahi> is [a'i], not [aj].  And of
course, there's the English "silent e" which lengthens earlier vowels.