[lit-ideas] Re: conference on hypothesis testing

  • From: Judith Evans <judithevans001@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 16 Jul 2011 10:07:25 +0100 (BST)


"In Welsh, w, which is sounded as in English is used without another 
vowel, as in fwl, a fool; dwn, dun; dwb, mortar; gwn, a gun, and a gown."

I didn't understand this at first -- because of the missing comma after English 
-- and am still a bit unhappy about it; so let me clarify it.  In Welsh, w is 
both a w as in wonder, as in Bugeilio'r Gwenith Gwyn (better sung by a Welsh 
lyric tenor)


and a w as in Cwm Rhondda (can't find a good version in Welsh)


Judy Evans, Cardiff


On Sat, 16/7/11, Mike Geary <jejunejesuit.geary2@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

From: Mike Geary <jejunejesuit.geary2@xxxxxxxxx>
Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: conference on hypothesis testing
To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Date: Saturday, 16 July, 2011, 0:31

I too was taught sometimes 'y' and  'w'.  Never understood the 'w'.  Just now I 
found this on google:
In Grammar of the English Tongue, which is prefixed to his Dictionary of the 
English Language, Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) wrote:
"Of w, which in diphthongs is often an undoubted vowel, some grammarians have 
doubted whether it ever be a consonant; and not rather as it is called a double 
u, or ou, as water may be resolved into ouater; but letters of the same sound 
are always reckoned consonants in other alphabets: and it may be observed, that 
w follows a vowel without any hiatus or difficulty of utterance, as frosty 
winter. Yet I am of opinion that both w and y are always vowels, because they 
cannot after a vowel be used with the sound which is supposed to make them 

Note: The last sentence is omitted in the 1785 6th edition and later editions 
of the Dictionary.

In his 1828 edition of his American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah 
Webster (1758-1843) wrote:
"W is properly a vowel, a simple sound, formed by opening the mouth with a 
close circular configuration of the lips. it is precisely the ou of the French, 
and the u of the Spaniards, Italians and Germans. With the h vowels it forms 
diphthongs, which are of easy pronunciation; as in well, want, will, dwell; 
pronouced ooell, ooant, ooill, dooell. In English, it is always followed by 
another vowel, except when followed by h, as is when; but this case is an 
exception only in writing, and not in pronunciation, for h precedes w in 
utterance; when being pronounced hooen. In Welsh, w, which is sounded as in 
English is used without another vowel, as in fwl, a fool; dwn, dun; dwb, 
mortar; gwn, a gun, and a gown.

Ih his 1823 book, The First Lines of Grammar, Goold Brown (1791-1857) wrote:
"W or Y is called a consonant when it precedes a vowel heard in the same 
syllable, as in wine, twine, whine, ye, yet, youth; in all other cases, these 
letters are vowels, as in newly, dewy, eyebrow." 

God bless Google.

Mike Geary
Google-boy of Memphis

On Fri, Jul 15, 2011 at 2:29 PM, John Wager <jwager@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

Donal McEvoy wrote:

Try all you like but they seem hellbent on examining 'What is it like to be the 
only gay in the village and use 'w' as a vowel?',

When I was in second grade, I distinctly remember being taught the vowels by 
making a hand-outline on my newsprint paper and writing A-E-I-O-U on all the 
finger tips, and then writing W and Y on the heel of the hand.  But years 
later, I realized that only "Y" was REALLY a vowel, and couldn't see why in the 
world I had remembered both W and Y.  Was it my first confirmed faulty memory 
example? Was I mis-taught in Pennsylvania? Was there some secret that only my 
second grade teacher knew that nobody else knew?  My "hypothesis" is that there 
is a problem somewhere; this is fairly easy to test, at least.  But now you 
have given me a new hypothesis to test: Perhaps my second

grade teacher was Welsh!!! Or at least realized English included the 
possibility of using "W" as a vowel, in some localities?  Is "W" really a vowel 
in Welsh? Or is this also just some kind of weird dream from my past? 

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