According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, Spanish works about the New World in the 1500s wrote the word we spell in modern English as "hurricane" alternatively as "huracan" or "furacan". A spelling with an initial "f" has been preserved in many of the other Iberian languages: Portuguese, Galician, and Asturian, at least.
Did this "f" in Portuguese "furacão" come from the Americas, or was it created in Iberia?
According to Wikipedia, there is evidence of word-initial "f" being pronounced in Spanish as a glottal [h] as early as 863 A.D., but the word-initial [h] sound in words affected by this was still usually written as "f" until the 1500s. (Also around this time, /f/ was borrowed back into Spanish. It's unclear to me what this could mean about the earlier status of the sound [f] itself when not word-initial.)
As far as I can tell, the Iberian languages that spell hurricane with an "f" today did not undergo the f → [h] sound changes of Castilian Spanish.
This makes me unsure of how to understand words like "huracán", heard and written by Spanish explorers in the 1500s or earlier. It seems to me that there could have been possible confusions between word-initial [f] and [h] both in pronunciation and in spelling.
Compare also Juracán, which Wikipedia says is a "phonetic name given by the Spanish colonizers" from an indigenous Taíno word. This would support an [h] sound, but unfortunately, the article on Juracán is poorly sourced. The Wikipedia article on the Taíno language says that the reconstructed phonemes of that language do not include an [f] sound. The Arawak language, in the same language family and still spoken today, does include a similar sound (bilabial [ɸ]). There's a similar word ("Hurakan" or "Jun Raqan"?) from the K'iche' (Quiché) Maya, whose language does not seem to have an [f]. Neither does the reconstructed Proto-Mayan language.
Perhaps the local word was pronounced with something glottal, not an [f] sound, and spelling confusion or hypercorrection caused the birth of a different pronunciation in part of Iberia?
Am I just getting my head spun around by not reading the right sources?
Given what we know today, which of the following is most likely?
- The original word was pronounced with an [f] or similar sound
- The original word was pronounced with a glottal [h] or similar sound
- The original word happened to be pronounced in both ways by different tribes, a coincidental parallel to the sound differences existing in Iberia
From any of these beginnings, I suppose the current state of the word in various languages could have come from some combination of mispronunciations, hypercorrections, and spelling pronunciations?