Re: UAX #29 beta update (text breaks): apostrophe ./. H

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Mon Oct 27 2003 - 16:07:45 CST

I wrote:
> So in French we also have the additional word break rule:
> hyphens ÷ LatinLetterH
> This case is not documented...

But I forgot to speak about the common exception "aujourd'hui" (today) where
the apostrophe was originally an ellision resulting from the contraction of
"au jour de hui" (at the day of present).

The historic French word "hui" is now completely obsoleted, and commonly
found only in the single expression "aujourd'hui", considered now as a
single word (so in that case the break will not occur, and you will
typically not find the word "hui" in a modern French dictionnary). I can't
remember if there are other similar exceptions, but in general the rule is

This rule happens because in French the leading H is never pronounced (or it
should not). The difference between a H "aspiré" and a normal "H" appears in
French dictionnaries (such as Larousse) by inserting a "*" character before
the leading H in the entry (note that person and geographical names that
begin with a "H" are never pronounced and written with a "h aspiré", so this
"*" is not noted, for example with "la Hongrie"). Any "*" found before
common words must naver be pronounced linked with the previous consonnant,
and forbids using an elision of the article or verbal pronoun (so there will
never be an apostrophe.

Examples of entries when looking in Larousse French dictionnaries:

        "un haricot [ü: aricô]: don't pronounce the "h"
        "des haricots" [de: aricô]: don't pronounce the final s of "des"

        don't write or say "j'hisse" but "je hisse"
        - se ~: (no elision, we say "je me hisse", not "je m'hisse")

        write and say "l'histoire", not "la histoire";
        link the final consonnant of the article when saying
        "une histoire" [unistwar] or "les histoires" [lezistwar].

        "une heure" [ünEr], "deux heures" [dözEr]

You won't find "hui" at the letter H of the dictionnary, but you'll find
this single entry at letter A:

        (one word, no word break)

Some orthograph reformists would like to write this word without the
apostrophe to remove this word-break exception:


But this is still considered as an orthographic error.

Finally, the French apostrophe between two letters is prohibiting syllable
breaks for hyphenation, despite there's a word break after it.

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