The letter “W” and why it must go

The worldwide web was invented by Tim Berners-Lee in the early 90s. (No, you haven’t accidentally wandered into a History lesson – all will become clear as I progress. Actually “clear” may be a little too high as an objective. I will progress but clarity is never guaranteed.) Tim Berners-Lee’s proposal for a WorldWideWeb (please note – all one word!) became reality and search engines appeared. Said search engines referenced websites with addresses beginning with “www”, short for world wide web. This looked fine on screen but what happens when you say it out loud? That’s “double u double u double u“. A total of NINE syllables. I get tired by the second “W”. Three of them is just too much. “Worldwide” (in my dictionary) is one word so the abbreviation for “Worldwide web” should really be “ww”. That would have been a 33.33% reduction in verbal effort. Or if he’d kept to WorldWideWeb as one word that would have been just “w”. But it was not to be. So “www” it wwwas.

You and I are busy people. Well, I am anyway. I’m not so sure about you. You’ve been coasting lately really, haven’t you? What’s that? You say you are busy? – it’s just that you are calm in the face of pressure? So… You and I are busy people. Really. We haven’t got time to waste. But how much time has been thrown away by saying “double u double u double u“? There are 26 letters in our alphabet and 25 of them consist of one syllable. Twenty five! And only 1 that has three syllables – that pesky “W”. Professional linguistic scientists (by which I mean me and my stopwatch) have calculated it takes an average 0.178 seconds to say any of those one-syllable letters. And 0.481 seconds to say “W”. Throughout the ages, dear people, we have wasted our time on this letter. It takes too much time and effort to say it. And saying three of them all at once can lead to dizzy spells. Over the period covering the spoken word, an estimated 45,894 years, 5 months and 4 days have been wasted by saying this letter out loud.

Professional linguistic scientists have consulted with graphemics experts (by which I mean I had a word with my invisible friend Charlie) and the result was the suggestion to remove this letter altogether from the alphabet. This would result in the following…

Washington DC will become Ashington DC. We will have the Inter Olympics, C Fields, Hoopi Goldberg, Alt Disney, Illiam Ordsworth, John Ayne, Doctor Ho, Inston Churchill (Prime Minister during Orld Ar To) and, of course, the Orldide Eb.

There could be difficulties. The phrase “Walter, where are the women in Washington?” will become “Alter, here are the omen in Ashington?” The Duke of Wellington will become the Duke of Ellington. However, this could lead to some confusion with Duke Ellington. Historians might accidentally get them mixed up. They do that.

A “week of work” will become an “eek of ork“. “Underwear” becomes “underear“. People will, of course ash their underear. The “W particle” (of which, I am sure, you are obviously aware) will just be the “particle”. Navigation might prove tricky especially deciding whether to go East or Est. And we will have to get used to such animals as the easel, the alrus, the allaby, and, the even trickier illo arbler. People will drive around in a V Beetle while singing Country and Estern songs with the voice of Oody Oodpecker.

Professional linguistic scientists and graphemics experts have reconsidered this whole suggestion (by which I mean I told Charlie that he should stop having these stupid ideas) and I decided to allow the letter “W” to stay. We simply need to rename it. (Why Charlie didn’t think of this in the first place is beyond me, he gets carried away with these ideas sometimes.)

To shorten the time taken to say “W”, it will now be pronounced “woo”. (Consideration was given to using “wynn”, the Old English letter which preceded “W”. See? I don’t just throw this stuff together, it is painstakingly researched. However, it was felt use of “wynn” would just be showing off. And it’s not as much fun as “woo”.)

Adoption of “woo” means “www.bbc.co.uk” will now be pronounced “woo woo woo bee bee see dot co dot yoo kay”. This will also have the added effect that when enunciating web addresses, it will sound as if they are very exciting, being preceded with whoops of wonderment. As opposed to hoops of onderment.

So, get out there. Spread the word. Pronounce “W” as woo.

My work here is done.

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3 Responses to “The letter “W” and why it must go”

  1. Ah, the www syndrome. I know it well. As a radio presenter, I often have to read out such web addresses that begin with the letters “www”. I think it was Simon Mayo on Radio 2 that began reading all web addresses as “All the W’s dot bbc.co.uk”. Since then, I’ve adopted the same, and I no longer waste my breath on trying to pronounce “double U, double U, double U”.

    • Of course, “All the Ws” is five syllables. Whereas, if you employ “woo woo woo”, that’s only three! Except that you have to explain what “woo woo woo” means. So that takes even longer. Oh dear. Hoisted by my own petard. Life is so compicated.

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