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Matteo


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Posted Wed Nov 9th, 2011 10:13am Post subject: The "www" acronym and vikings

I recently listened to a Stephen Fry podgram discussing the absurd number of syllables needed to pronounce www — "double-yu" being three syllables long. As a result I wanted to share a titbit of information with the world or at least with anyone that wants to listen (thank you reader): the letter "w" has a one-syllable name after all.
While Greek and Hebrew letters have names, Latin letters do not, only an irritating spelling useful only for Scrabble. Britain, however, have not always used the Latin alphabet: Anglo-Saxon runes were used (Wikipedia has a good article).
The island was in fact under Danish rule for some time (hence the slightly misleading title). Interesting, after christianisation and consequent loss of the runic alphabet in favour of the Latin one, two runes were kept for a bit: one was the th group letter "þ" (later y, then th), called thorn, and the w letter ƿ, called wynn. Consequently, www could be called wynn wynn wynn, which slips off the tongue with ease! Unfortunately, everyone will assume you are as mad as king Cnut if you even tried using it. (Coincidentally, king Cnut's grandfather was Harold Bluetooth, so there is a link after all)


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