[k] as /h/

On the way home today I heard the most astounding realization of /h/: a teenage girl, probably 15 years old, who was consistently using [k] where most people in this part of the country would say [h]. I was dumbfounded, but I listened for several minutes and am pretty sure of what I heard. Every “he” was [ki], and every “who” was [ku].

I am baffled by this. My first thought was that the girl wasn’t a native speaker, but she had no other perceptible anomalies of pronunciation. My second thought was a peculiar speech impediment, but what kind of speech defect would result in replacing [h] with [k], rather than dropping it? I considered that I was simply mishearing, but again, in a noisy situation you’re more likely to not hear [h] at all than to consistently mistake it for [k]. My last thought was that it was an affectation, a deliberately non-standard pronunciation adopted to confuse others.

Who knows? Are there any linguists in the audience to shed light?


  1. Stii, copii din Ro au inceput sa foloseasca si la scoala prescurtarile pe care le folosesc pe mess sau mai bine zis modul prost in care scriu pe net. In loc de c scriu K, in loc de i scriu Y. Bineinteles ca sunt taxati de profesori si iau note proaste dei ma gandesc ca si aceasta individa pe care ai auzit-o se numara prin acei copii care se cred “cool” daca vorbesc asa.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s