On Mon, 30 Aug 2004 12:34:49 -0700, Philippe Caquant
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Interesting to note that, while Spanish transforms 'f'
> into 'h', Russian transforms 'h' into 'g' (gospital =
> [military] hospital). And Ukrainian transforms 'o'
> into 'i'. Looks like transforming sounds into other
> ones is a major occupation among people.

I don't think that's comparable, though - f->h in Spanish was in
original words, whereas h->g in Russian is what happens in borrowed

On Tue, 31 Aug 2004 13:35:45 +0200, Andreas Johansson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Quoting Christophe Grandsire <[log in to unmask]>:
> > >Interesting to note that, while Spanish transforms 'f'
> > >into 'h', Russian transforms 'h' into 'g' (gospital =
> > >[military] hospital).
> >
> > I thought they would rather transform it into [x], since that's what they
> > do when trying to learn a language containing [h]...
> My understanding is that [x] at some point replaced [g] as the replacement of
> foreign [h] in Russian. It appears to be a pretty recent thing; I've seen both
> _Gitler_ and _Xitler_* in WWII stuff.

That's my understanding, too. So older words such as "Gamburg" or
"Geynrikh Geyne" have [g] for [h], but newly-borrowed words would tend
to use [x]. (Unless the word is already well-known in a form with [g],
e.g. "Gelmut Kol" even though Kohl lived after [x] was more commonly
used, but "Gelmut" was an established spelling of "Helmut".)

> Judging from my atlas, Ukrainian has something spelt transliterated as 'h' where
> Russian has 'g' - Chernihiv for Chernigov, and so on. The little voices in my
> head say this is probably relevant.


Some areas of Russia do this, too (in the south, unsurprisingly -
close to the Ukraine). I knew someone from Taganrog (roughly,
[tahan"rOk] in his speech; not far from Rostov-na-Donu, on the Sea of
Azov) and he had [h] for /g/, at least in some positions.

IIRC, Ukrainian has [g] only in onomatopoeia and some loanwords, and
uses (used?) a special letter (g-with-upturn) for this, which was
abolished (when it became part of the USSR?), though some are trying
to reintroduce it. The letter for [g] in Russian is regularly
pronounced [h] in Ukrainian, AFAIK.

Philip Newton <[log in to unmask]>
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