Social Question

ragingloli's avatar

Why did the English language not invent a proper name for the letter W?

Asked by ragingloli (47012points) 3 weeks ago

Instead of lazily calling it a “double U”.
And why is the letter “P” not called a “cripple B”?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

18 Answers

Darth_Algar's avatar

Probably because early on the “W” character hadn’t really been developed and the sound was usually rendered with “UU” (or sometimes “VV”).

elbanditoroso's avatar

They did create a proper name – it was double-u.

ragingloli's avatar

@elbanditoroso
That is about as proper a name as “hairless monkey” is for a human.

doyendroll's avatar

@ragingloli any bilabial velar glide and you are onto it like a rat up a drainpipe.

“In Latin, U represented a W sound, which could only occur before a vowel. Consider equus, “horse,” pronounced like [ ek-woos ]. You see that literal double U, that UU, and how it is associated with our W sound?

While the W disappeared from much of Latin pronunciation as it evolved into the Romance languages, one influential variety of French, Norman French, did have a W sound, especially as a result of the Germanic words that flooded the language from Viking incursions into northern France. And Germanic languages love a W. So, Norman French used a double U to represent W sounds in words.”

JLeslie's avatar

Double u is the name of the letter, I’m not so sure I would call it lazy. I wonder if in old English two u’s were written in some words and it evolved? We need Jeruba on the Q.

Maybe it’s from the Latin? I don’t know Latin, but in Spanish it’s usually double u, but some countries call it double v. I think this probably has to do with what countries border the Spanish speaking country, or who primarily immigrated to those countries.

In German isn’t the W pronounced like a V? What is W called in Germany?

gondwanalon's avatar

@ragingloli Humans are apes not monkeys. We’re the naked ape. Our super family is Hominoidea = the apes.

Demosthenes's avatar

W is one of the newest letters in the English alphabet. It evolved from using a double UU or VV to write the sound /w/ in Germanic languages since the letter V in the Latin alphabet came to represent a /v/ sound (rather than /w/ as it once did in Classical Latin). Ironically in German, the /w/ sound eventually became /v/ so the point is moot (the change from /w/ to /v/ is a common sound change among languages). It’s from this transparent evolution that it’s given such a literal name. P and B look similar but they’re not historically related; they derive from different Semitic sources.

kritiper's avatar

“Downward pointing tits” is just too much to say for a W.

canidmajor's avatar

Because “Aitch” was already taken?

JLeslie's avatar

I forgot to write that B and V I think of as closely related not B and P. In Spanish B and V are often pronounced the same or very similar.

In English we nickname William to Bill, so I always wondered if that was also the same idea that maybe B and V are historically related or interchangeable and W is pronounced V in some languages.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

It was Bobs fault from marketing. He said that one is on him. He said my bad. He also is sorry for Coke II.

Yellowdog's avatar

Scandinavians, who call it double-v – pronounce it like we Americans pronounce ‘V’ —not like a W—so the English character its really a different character which only looks like a W.

doyendroll's avatar

Tune in next week when @ragingloli covers diction and syntax, and explains how English arose fro a minor German dialect.

A for ‘orses (hay for horses)
B for mutton (beef or mutton)
C for ‘th highlanders (Seaforth Highlanders)
D for ‘ential (deferential)
E for Adam (Eve or Adam)
F for ‘vescence (effervescence)
G for police (chief of police)
H for respect (age for respect)
I for Novello (Ivor Novello)
J for oranges (Jaffa oranges)
K for ‘ancis, (Kay Francis), or K for undressing
L for leather (Hell for leather)
M for ‘sis (emphasis)
N for ‘adig (in for a dig, or infra dig.)
O for the garden wall (over the garden wall)
P for relief (pee for relief)
Q for the toilet (queue for the toilet)
R for mo’ (half a mo’)
S for you (it’s for you)
T for two (tea for two)
U for films (UFA films)
V for La France (vive la France)
W for quits (double you for quits)
X for breakfast (eggs for breakfast)
Y for Gawd’s sake (why, for God’s sake?)
Z for breezes (zephyr breezes, see West wind)

snowberry's avatar

^^ yes indeed! I can’t wait! lol

raum's avatar

Would totally watch this.

filmfann's avatar

Oddly, WWW is short for World Wide Web.
Which can you say faster?

Nomore_lockout's avatar

Just call it double V and let it go.

Yellowdog's avatar

In languages where it is called “Double V” it SOUNDS like “V” or “VV”

In English it is pronounced very differently,

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