[lit-ideas] Re: conference on hypothesis testing

  • From: Mike Geary <jejunejesuit.geary2@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 15 Jul 2011 18:31:44 -0500

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 consonants."
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)
"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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