Sunday, December 15, 2013

Spanish h and Portuguese f

A number of Spanish words have a word-initial which corresponds to a word-initial f in Portuguese. The word-initial f was present in Latin but changed to an h in Spanish. The Spanish h now has no phonetic value. It remains in the orthography but is not pronounced.

Here is a list of words with an h in Spanish and f in Portuguese:

hablar falar (speak)
hijo filho (son)
hija filha (daughter)
hierro ferro (iron)
horno forno (oven)
hoja folha (leaf)
hilo fio (string)
harina farinha (flour)
hecho fato (fact)
hambre fome (hunger)

The Portuguese words preserve the word-initial f of Latin. It is thus possible to say that Portuguese is more conservative than Spanish. In addition to this sound relationship, Spanish and Portuguese share many others.

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