Why is the Portuguese ‘r’ pronounced as r and h?


So I know at the start it’s pronounced as a h and anywhere else pretty much is the r sound.

But I want to know, where do these vastly different pronunciations come from?

How did it make its way into the Portuguese?

Why are both used and not just one or the other?

Why do some languages use some words like this? How could you look at an ‘r’ and hear a ‘h’ sound? (Ik different languages, different ways of speaking etc, but seeing as the ‘r’ is still pronounced as an ‘r’ im curious as to how the ‘h’ sound corresponds with it)

In: Other

A few potential answer for that question. But FYI, I’m no linguist.

1) It’s an archaism. The “r” used to be pronounced like an “r” in every part of the word, but as time passed, people feeled that it was easier or cooler or nicer to say the “r” like an “h” when it was at the begining of the word. But since the written language isn’t evolving at the same speed (or with the same goals) as spoken language, it is still written “r”.

2) it’s caused to the fact that portuguese isn’t pronounced like latin is, thus using latin caracter can be tricky to write how portuguese is spoken. Just like you have to use weird letter combination to write Japanese in latin caracters.

3) to show the etymology of the word. In french, for example, whenever you see a “y”, you know it’s a word that comes from either Greek or English, but not from latin. Even though we have “i” and “ll” that do the exact same as “y”, we decided to use “y” to show a greek origin (or an english origin for more recent words). Maybe the “r” that are pronounced like an “h” are there to show an unsuspected origin of a word?

Not answering the question but since I’m Portuguese and I never heard the “h” sound with a “r” involved, could you give me an example? 😅

The same applies to all languages to some extent. A written language doesn’t have letters that map to all phonemes (sounds) needed to properly speak it. Think about how in English “Cop” and “Cope” have vastly different sounding “o”s.