Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Swedes take a step forward in orthography

MediaCulpa has the news that the Swedish Academy has added "W" to the Swedish alphabet.

It now has 29 letters instead of 28, since "W" is now considered a letter
of its own, as in most countries, and not just a variation of "V".

Dagens Nyheter, reports:

Den psykologiska orsaken till att W blivit självständigt beror delvis på den
tunga påverkan ordet "webb" medfört. Men bokstaven är också liktydig med andra
moderna glosor som walkie-talkie, wannabe eller wallraffa.- Och tvist och twist
betyder ju helt olika saker, säger Sture Allén, ordföranden i Svenska Akademiens
språkkommitté.

The psychological reason for making W a separate letter was in part due
to the large influence of the word "web". But the letter is also synonymous with
other modern words like "walkie-talkie", "wannabe", or "wallraffa"
(to carry out investigative journalism under false identity)--And "dispute" and
"twist" are two competely different things, says Sture Allén, spokesman for the
Swedish Academy's language committee.

Maybe now, Swedes will stop pronouncing the English words viking and video as "wiking" and "wideo" even though the damn things have v's in Swedish.

6 comments:

Eric said...

What is it with 'w', anyway? So, like, in English, we say 'double-u', not 'double-v', right? But it looks like a double-v when we write it (unless you have girlie-bubble letters, yo).

In Spanish, there's variation between 'doble-v' (standard, I think) and 'doble-u', and nobody seems to care one way or the other. But Spanish letter names are just nuts anyway. The standard word for 'y' in Spanish is 'i-griega' (sometimes 'ye', but I don't hear that often), which means 'greek-i', but we don't say 'i-romana' for 'i' ... and we sometimes have to say 'b-grande' or 'b-larga' to distinguish it from 'v-chica', though some people say 'uve' for the latter to keep the two letters distinct. It's insane.

Click here to hear someone who's way to excited about Spanish letter names ...

liberal elite said...

The Swedes call it "dubbel v". After I read this yesterday I was wondering how a Swede said "www"---"dubbel v dubbel v dubbel" or simply "vvv". This morning I heard it: "vvv". I wonder if that will change now.

This is the only time when I wish we had an American Academy. I'd seriously like to put through some spelling reforms. Maybe bring back eth!

Robotpolisher said...

I'm convinced us swedes just aren't wired right when it comes to v's and w's. I've lived here and spoken english for 20 someodd years and totally lost my accent, but saying something like "West Village" completely trips me up. Tends to come out more like "Vest Willage".... I blame the genes...

liberal elite said...

That's great. I've never heard a w becoming v, usually I hear it the other way around. Of course that one could be interference from Swedish (väst) or it could be a spoonerism...

Robotpolisher said...

I'm not rightly sure just WHAT the cause is but more times than not it's v's and w's (and of course the dreaded y's instead of j's) that slip into my otherwise unaccented english and remind me that, oh right, it's my second language :)

This seems to happen especially once alcohol's involved. hmm...

boredoom said...

It's odd to see them include "wallraffa" as one of the reasons to make "w" official. Since it comes from a German name, the initial letter is pronounced "v." In the other words they mention, the "w" is pronounced as in English (or as near to English as the Swedes manage).

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