Here’s the deal. There are a lot of letters (26 last time I counted), each with its own personality. I enjoy the quiet, humble strength of a and e. The sturdy determination of d and k. The poetic, soft nature of h and l. The quirky flair of x and q. And who doesn’t love s? But w? I’ve got problems with w.
Double-u (yep, that’s how you spell it) is the only letter with more than one syllable. It has three. Way to go, syllable hog. It has so many syllables because, unlike all of the other letters, w is completely unoriginal. In Old English it was actually written uu. It’s not a real letter, it’s just another letter doubled. And, on top of that, it looks like a double v. Double-u steals its name from one letter, thieves its look from another and then struts around in multisyllabic glory like it owns the alphabet.
But my main issue with this letter is whether or not it’s a vowel. Growing up, I was always told that the vowels were, “A, e, i, o, u and sometimes y.” It wasn’t until after college that someone amended this to, “A, e, i, o, u and sometimes y and w.” “Sometimes w!” I screamed in terror. My world had been turned upside down. Everything I thought I knew thrown into doubt in one life-questioning moment. Was e sometimes a consonant? Was my dog sometimes a cat? Was w sometimes a dog and/or cat? It was utter madness.
Here’s how it works. A diphthong is a sound made by two vowels blended together, and in words like “claw,” “dew,” and “show,” the w works with the other vowel to make a diphthong. This makes w a semi-vowel or a semi-consonant, depending on who you ask. If you ask me, it makes double-u wishy-washy, and not to be trusted. So the sentence, “Hi, I’m double-u and one of my many flaws is that I borrow a few traits from other letters,” may include three examples of w as a vowel, but more importantly, it contains one truth.
Then, if we want to get really crazy, we can look at the words “cwm” (a valley) and “crwth” (a musical instrument), where some claim that w is a pure vowel. While others contend that these are ridiculous words that no one ever uses, so what’s the point?
Believe me, I’m not the only one who can’t stand w. The University of Washington and the University of Wyoming both go by the nickname, “U of Dub,” in an attempt to distance themselves from this unfortunate letter. Remember when we had to type “www” (or sextuplet u) at the start of every internet address. Not anymore. We all hated those w’s and the president of the internet got rid of them.
So, how am I going to do it? How will I eradicate the 23rd letter? There are two things we can do. We can go old school and write double-u the original way. Like this – Uue can go old school and uurite double-u the original uuay. And we you and I can simply try to avoid this letter. Like this – Every day after Tuesday, my female spouse and I take our dog for a stroll, he’s so happy he moves his tail back and forth. Got it? Good. United, anything is possible. Let’s make it uuork.