Thursday, November 26, 2015


Some things you should know about W: Every other letter in the English alphabet is satisfied with a single syllable as its name—sometimes a single mouth noise, as with E. That is only in the spirit after all of what a letter is. What does W do? Helps itself to not one but two extra syllables. How does it accomplish this? By looking at the letter U (of all things), puffing up its widdle chest, and saying, "I'm twice that." W is embroiled in practically every scandal of the alphabet there is. For subtlety, it participates in an odd round robin of oppositional pairings: L and R, left and right, R and W, right and wrong, W and L, wins and losses. Too subtle for you? All right. Why don't we saw away awhile on the silent letter. There it is, where it belongs, as the first letter in the word "wrong." Talk about meta. Wikipedia says words such as "wreak, wrap, wreck, and wrench" originally had the W pronounced by sly dog Angle-Saxons. It still is apparently in some Scottish dialects, woe to we all. I don't see a word in Wikipedia, by the way, about W as consonant and "sometimes" vowel. But I recall hearing that my younger siblings were taught W that way. In the wilds of the Internet I found a paragraph at concerning the issue. A couple of archaic Welsh words—"cwm," "crwth"—would indeed appear to be using the W exactly as a vowel, but who uses those words? By the time the short article was on "low" and "bow" it was clear someone somewhere at some point wanted to make a distinction about the direction in which the lips are traveling as they glide in and out of pursed position for W. Coming in, it appears, somehow makes it a vowel. The article concludes that L, M, N, and R may also be considered "sometimes" vowels in this regard, offering as examples "bottle," "bottom," "button," and "butter." So there you have it: A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes L, M, N, R, W, and Y. What a world, what a world. But then I remembered the knowing way someone actually inserted W into the word "vowel" itself, and I was all right again. It's all wrong, but that's the way we do things around here. As for its utility, well, W is ranked #15 for frequency of use, just behind M, just ahead of F (a motherfucker). I'd like to propose changing the pronunciation of W to "I'm twice that," which you'll note is also three syllables, preserving its dignity. Well, it may scan a little differently, for you poets and singers, and might take some work in places. But some applications already work quite well: George I'm-twice-that Bush, for example. Walla Walla!

No comments:

Post a Comment