The Original Pronunciation of 'W'.

I just know from my Latin-English dictionary, the classical pronunciation of ‘V’ would be like our ‘W’, like in the English word ‘water’. To further confuse matters, ‘W’ in Polish and German is pronounced like our ‘V’, like in the English word ‘vine’.

Then apparently in the Middle Ages or so, the letter ‘W’ has to be invented. But what was its original sound? Especially in English and in the other European languages?

As I said, the sound of ‘W’ in ‘water’ has been around at least since classical times. In fact, it is even called a semi-vowel. (BTW, in case any of you don’t already know, ‘U’ and ‘V’ were interchangeable in Classical Latin.)

So I guess what I need, is a crash course in historic phonetics, specifically the letter ‘W’.

Thank you in advance for all your helpful replies:)


P.S. And BTW, don’t laugh. I am probably not the first person who wondered this. I am just the first person who has the courage to ask the question. Most history books I have read at least, are no help.:slight_smile:

Back in the 90s, kaylasmom got her first computer with a synthesized speech card. For the most part the synthetic speech program’s dictionary was comprehensive enough to “speak” most words without egregious mispronunciations, so it fell to me to modify some words (unfortunately, I can’t recall any specific examples). This meant that I found myself learning how to “teach” the software how to construct all of the vowel sounds.

What I learned was that, except in instances where the “W” was pronounced as a “V,” the “W” was always pronounced as an “oo” phoneme. Just as the letter “Y” is always pronounced as “ee.”

So now, my head canon calls “w” and “y” vowels, and not consonants.

But yeah, “w” began life as “uu,” or double-u.

Like in “cwm”?

I don’t know if it is too late to say this. But actually, I was hoping my brethren at the SDMB could answer this question, and in more simpler terms (I am aware of the Wikipedia article:)).

BTW, a big storm is in the forecast for my area. So I may lose power. If I don’t reply to the SDMB, you will know why. I am not ignoring you. I will just have lost my power and hence internet access, basically.