Which is correct – haitch or aitch?
This is a continuous issue of discussion and even the spelling is questionable given that the ‘t’ before ‘ch’ usually only occurs after a short vowel (e.g., batch, stitch, crutch) and ‘ai’ is a long vowel sound.The ‘aitch’ is actually an accident of linguistic change. The Latin ‘ha’ (the name for the letter that illustrated the aspiration) has been gradually altered overtime from ‘aha’ to ‘ache’ to ‘aitch’.
Apparently, in Australia, the ‘haitch’ pronunciation can be attributed to the Irish Catholics, the ‘underdogs’ of Australian society, and consequently, not a group to which an upwardly mobile person would want to be related.
So, ‘haitch’ or ‘aitch’ is little more than a social marker. However, ‘haitch’ is becoming increasingly popular among the younger generation, irrespective of their social background. So, in the not too distant future, the ‘aitch’ versus ‘haitch’ discussion will likely be irrelevant!
Butler, S. (2014). The Aitch Factor. Macmillian Australia Pty Ltd: Sydney.