Renaming the Letter W
Of all the letters in the English (and many Romance) languages, the letter W is perhaps one of the strangest. With all other letters, the name of the letter can be pronounced by combining the sound of the letter with a vowel sound.
However, the letter W is pronounced by calling it what it looks like, or rather, what it used to look like, "Double U". This break in the naming convention of letters is intolerable and reflects a lazy attitude towards language. Therefore, the letter W, and all of its equivalents in other languages must be renamed.
However, the renaming of a letter is not a task to be taken lightly. If we ignore the naming conventions of the other letters, we will simply be recreating the folly we are attempting to correct. A quick survey of the English letters reveals the following conventions in order of frequency:
- by adding an e after the consonant (8 occurrences B, C, D, G, P, T, V, Z)
- by adding an e before the consonant (6 occurrences F, L, M, N, S, X)
- are vowels themselves (5 occurrences A, E, I, O, U)
- by adding an a after the consonant (2 occurrences J, K)
- are sub-vowels (2 occurrences H, Y)1
- by adding an a before the consonant (1 occurrence R)
- by adding a diphthong after the consonant (1 occurrence Q)2
Except for the special cases of H, Q, and Y, all the letters follow a simple letter + vowel pattern for their pronunciation. Even in the cases of H, Q, and Y, the sound of the letter appears at least somewhere in their name. W, then, should be renamed to follow this convention. Of the possibilities presented above, the applicable cases are to add an e or an a before or after the letter. This results in:
Of these choices, I submit that the best choice for the letter W would be "wee". The way the W sound is made by the mouth is most similar to the consonants that take a following e. "ewe" is too close to U, and "awe" is awkward between V and X. "wae" would be fine, except that W has little in common with the way the J and K sounds are made.
So join me in my crusade. Write your congressperson or equivalent. Demand that the slipshod attitude towards the naming of letters has gone on far too long. Demand change for the betterment of the English language and ourselves.
1 H and Y are vowel-like in their pronunciation, resulting in their odd pronunciations. However, this does not exempt them from being changed and I think changing H to "Hae" and Y to "Ya" would be proper. Incidentally, I believe this also proves the group OutKast agrees with these changes, given the name of their hit song.
2 Q cannot be pronounced the same as any of the other letters because of the nature of the sound. It can never occur without an accompanying diphthong, unless it is sounded as a different letter, usually K.