In English, we generally spell 'Ah', 'Aah', or 'Aaaaaah' (as it seems, any number of a's is possible) with an 'h' at the end. Someone just asked me why and I have been searching all over the internet for a clue. Does anyone know and/or have any theories, historical context, anything? Thank you,
There are three possible explanation, and I think they have a cumulative effect:
- Even in the Latin language there was ō/ōh variation. Possibly oh is a contraction of ōhō.
- There wasn't such an exclamation in English before the 1400s.There were ea/la/lo exclamations. In the same time there was the rise of Latin literature, the Norman, Frankish influences, so from this time there appear o, and oh in English. Or as Latin tradition in English, or via Norman tradition of Latin, or from Frankish, where h comes to mean a lengthening sign after contraction of words like gehen, sehen, etc.
- All the other exclamations as uh, ah, ugh, etc. are more recent and made by analogy. My own explanation - there were too fewer words without digraphs, etc. in English, that even Shakespearean strictly-by-Latin-example O-vocatives look outstanding.
I suspect this is just a matter of orthography. I would interpret "aaaaaaaaa" (which is sometimes written) as /æ:::::/ (i.e. a very lengthened TRAP vowel), whilst I would interpret "ahhhhhhh" as /ɑ:::::::/ (i.e. a very lengthened PALM vowel).
I don't know why I'd interpret them this way though, so I suppose it only pushes the question back one stage.