Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

My 4 year old son just asked me this, and I have to say I am totally stumped.

I hate not telling him things, so here's hoping you guys can dig me out of this hole.

You can't fault his logic!

share|improve this question
1  
2  
May be general reference but I thought it was an interesting question. Props for the 4-year-old. :) –  lindanaughton Nov 30 '11 at 16:24
    
The Spanish letter ñ was originally a double n until the second n shrunk and moved above. –  Henry Nov 30 '11 at 22:36
1  
+1 My upvote goes to all 4yos! –  Kris Dec 1 '11 at 6:07
1  
mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm let me think about that –  Preet Sangha Dec 1 '11 at 12:24

2 Answers 2

Good question, indeed. The quick answer is that he is thinking visually instead of orally. As Wikipedia states, w derives from a u sound, but m does not derive from n. The happenstance of the visual representation is mere coincidence. I dare you to use that last sentence with a four year old. :)

share|improve this answer

I asked this when I was about four. I was told to find out myself ..

Original derivation of 'W' is actually 'double vee', from the Roman/Latin 'U' (which was actually 'V' or 'five').

Original derivation of 'M' is from the Greek 'Mju', based on the much earlier Phoenician 'Mem' (a squiggle). This symbol for water is pre-Assurian, ie. older than recorded history. (from museum trip, when I was 15)

They are NOT related.

share|improve this answer
    
So a W is not a double U at all? –  Mild Fuzz Dec 1 '11 at 10:12
    
Simple progrssion. V becomes U, double V becomes double U. –  Polynomial Dec 1 '11 at 11:06

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.