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rebbel's avatar

"W = double U". Why U and not V?

Asked by rebbel (24814points) April 2nd, 2012

The “W” looks like two V’s, it sounds almost like a V.
Yet we call it double U, instead of double V.
Why? << hear, almost sounds like Vy.

Side question: The U being a vowel, which, when put together makes for a consonant, what other vowels can you couple, and what (new) consonant does that make?

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18 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

Look. Do you ever hear anyone saying “double vee?”

Case closed.

Fly's avatar

Actually, it is called “double v” in other languages. For example, the French word for the letter w is pronounced as such.

rebbel's avatar

@wundayatta No, that’s my point/question.
Case closed? I vill be the judge of that as vill other Jellies ;-)
@ragingloli Thanks! By the way, that is not a W, that is a bum with two small side penii.
@Fly Thanks for that!

wundayatta's avatar

Oh. I thought you were talking about how it looks, not how it sounds. All I’m saying is that no one ever says “doubt vee.” They say “double you.” Hence the name.

tom_g's avatar

It keeps people on their toes. Never know what the English language is going to do next.

blueiiznh's avatar

English uses the Latin alphabet of the Romans. However, this had no letter suitable for representing the speech sound /w/ which was used in Old English, though phonetically the sound represented by /v/ was quite close. In the 7th century scribes wrote uu for /w/; later they used the runic symbol known as wynn. European scribes had continued to write uu, and this usage returned to England with the Norman Conquest in 1066. Early printers sometimes used vv for lack of a w in their type. The name double-u recalls the former identity of u and v, which you can also see in a number of words with a related origin, for example flour/flower, guard/ward, or suede/Swede.

(Based on the Oxford Companion to the English Language)

King_Pariah's avatar

Because “double vee” sounds like “double me” which sounds just egotistical whereas “double you” gives off the vibe that I want more of you, precisely two of you, in my bed, now. :D

Brian1946's avatar

Because it’s a double-u when written cursively.

SavoirFaire's avatar

There are discussions of the history here and here. The short answer appears to be that differences between Old English and Latin led to the current pronunciation of the character “W” when the Latin alphabet was adopted for the English language. As noted above, many other languages do pronounce the character “W” as their equivalent of “double-v.”

JLeslie's avatar

@Fly is right, it is double vee in other languages. Some Spanish speaking countries call it duble u, others duble v. W is pronounced like a V in other languages, first that comes to mind is German, but I am not sure of all the rules of German pronounciation.

ragingloli's avatar

@JLeslie But in contrast to that, V is pronounced [faʊ], sharp like an F. So (in most cases) W does not sound at all like V.

AshLeigh's avatar

A E I O U.
A E I O U.

flo's avatar

English must be sooo hard to learn for older students. Many many things don’t necessarily make sense. But in this case it can go either way (u or w) depending if it is cursive or printing we’re talking about.

JLeslie's avatar

In English W does not sound like V, unless we are pronouncing a word from a different language, and honoring the pronounciation of that language.

rojo's avatar

@JLeslie but it does not sound like “U” either.

JLeslie's avatar

@rojo But it is more like U in my opinion. V has a very hard sound in English. If I wrote Croud instead of crowd, you would probably pronounce the word the same, like proud. W sounds more like one of our vowels than a consonant.

ucme's avatar

There’s always an alternative, dubya…as in “the big dubya” or George.

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