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 Illiam T. Perkins. And it’s a neat looking letter, too. Almost regal, I think.

But Ws suffer from the unfortunate defect of an identity crisis. I mean, there’s the obvious issue that it’s called a “Double-yoo,” but it’s actually composed of a couple of Vs.

Aside from that, “Double-yoo” is just a ridiculous name for a letter. In the rest of the alphabet, the letters get nice little compact monosyllabic names. Ws are three times as long.

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 scribes-manship, and mixing things together that had no business being mixed.

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.

“Good morning, Uilhelm,” people said.

“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.

Bye Uilhelm.”

So Vilhelm became Wihelm, and that became William. And, quite frankly, I’ve had a bit of a grudge ever since.

That really happened. Trust me.

William T. Perkins is a senior studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Do you think W should be banished from the alphabet? Let William know by emailing him at

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