Here’s a modest proposal: let’s get rid of the letter “W.”
I understand this sounds like a pretty crazy idea, but trust me, our language could get along just fine if it disappeared.
Sure, this could create some issues, and there’d be some pretty serious adjustments to be made. For example, the letter stands right at the front of my byline, and I certainly have appreciated it being there in the past. No one is going to read anything penned by an
But Ws suffer from the unfortunate defect of an
Aside from that, “Double-
Phonetically, W is just an “oo” sound trying too hard to be a consonant. In fact, up until the 19th century, many grammar books grouped it in the same ranks as A, E, I, O and U.
Its existence is the result of a bunch of scribes in the 14th century getting a little too freaky with their
You see, up until that point, U and V had been represented by a single letter: one that kinda basically looked like a U, but sounded like a V. That didn’t become a huge deal until some people started getting fancy and pronouncing it like a long U.
That was particularly bothersome to people named Vilhelm, because people began mispronouncing their names all over the place, and Vilhelms are particularly pedantic people.
“It’s pronounced Vilhelm,” the Vilhelms replied.
“Are you sure?” they said.
“Yes. It’s been my name my entire life, I’m pretty sure I —”
“Hey here’s an idea,” the people said. “You should just stick a couple of those letters in front of your name, and people can pronounce it in either fashion. Problem solved.”
“That doesn’t make any —” the Vilhelms said.
So Vilhelm became
That really happened. Trust me.