Ancient Greek (some dialects at least) had a phoneme /h/, written with a rough breathing mark on vowels. Did this phoneme ever occur between two vowels, or only word-initially and after consonants?

Answers from any dialect and any point in time (at least any ones where /h/ still existed, so not Koinē) are appreciated.

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    Almost the same: Greek pronunciation, invisible aspiration (my impression is that that question focuses on compound words, and doesn’t seem as broadly scoped in terms of dialect and era, but perhaps you could edit this question to mention the older one)
    – Asteroides
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 0:13
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    Hebrew sanhedrin < συνέδριον is another piece of evidence that h- was preserved in compounds.
    – TKR
    Commented Apr 13, 2019 at 19:46
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    @TKR I hadn't thought of that! That would make a good answer in and of itself.
    – Draconis
    Commented Apr 13, 2019 at 19:48

1 Answer 1


The only example of an intervocalic /h/ indicated in writing that I know of is in ταὧς, "peacock", but it's likely that /h/ also occurred in certain cases where there is a morpheme boundary, e.g., ευήμερος, probably pronounced [euhɛːmeros], though the internal /h/ is not represented in writing. (I believe this is supported by the Latin spelling "euhemerus".

  • Another instance I've seen is ὑὕζω "to hoot" (like an owl does), but that's more onomatopoeia than an actual word. Ταὧς is much more legitimate.
    – Draconis
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 22:30
  • But just to check, is ταὧς Attic? I haven't come across it before, but I'd assume the presence/absence of /h/ was very time- and dialect-dependent.
    – Draconis
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 22:36
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    @Draconis It's listed in Liddell and Scott as an alternate form of ταώς with no indication that it's anything other than Attic. I've never seen this word in the wild, but I remember coming accross it in some sort of philological work decades ago as being apparently the only example of a Greek word that had an internal rough breathing (other than in compounds). It's been long enough that I cannot remember the book I read that in, but the example was so striking as to stick in my mind.
    – varro
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 0:23
  • @Draconis Oh, and I see now that you probably should look at the link referenced by sumelic in his comment.
    – varro
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 0:30
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    ταώς (with or without spiritus asper) is an Oriental loan word and thus not really relevant for Greek phonology. For the “inner aspiration” Beekes refers to Schwyzer: 219 (not available to me at the moment).
    – fdb
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 16:44

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