"Double u" is a rather long pronunciation for a letter. Why do we not yet have a shortened pronunciation yet? Is the letter simply too young, or are there other reasons?

  • It has a shortened version: "dubya". That's not just the nickname of a president. Mar 1, 2014 at 20:53
  • “Why not” is very difficult to answer objectively. It's possible that somebody has analyzed this, but much more likely just speculation. Mar 1, 2014 at 20:54
  • French calls it 'double v', though it hardly ever appears in a French word. The Germans pronounce it as though it were a v. Latin pronounces V as though it were w. And I have heard Chinese people do the same. But I'll bet you didn't realise the Romans got as far as Shanghai!
    – WS2
    Mar 1, 2014 at 21:13
  • @PeterShor I wonder if 'w' is "shortened" per se, or if what is happening is essentially a phonetic/phonological process that you also get language-wide in e.g. "[double y]our time" etc. Mar 1, 2014 at 21:31
  • It's long, but it's rarely pronounced except when giving a URL, and I do observe that www is often given as dub-dub-dub or triple-dub.
    – choster
    Mar 1, 2014 at 22:03

1 Answer 1


One potential reason is simply that there's not much motivation (or "evolutionary advantage" to the language if you want to see things that way) to shorten the pronunciation of 'w'.

Remember that 'w' is one of the rarest letters, having a frequency of something like 1-2% compared to in the region of 10% for "common" letters like 'a', 'e', 't'. And even that frequency is probably largely down to a handful of common words such as "who" and "where", which in reality people practically never need to spell out.

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