Friday, September 01, 2017

1839 Why do we Need Double U?

1839 UU hy do we need W?

That’s a big question, especially for those of us with “w” in our names.  We use W so many times a day it’s hard to count.  And if there were no such letter, that would give Microsoft and Apple an extra key to use for some unnecessary function.  You can never have too many keys for unnecessary functions.

On the keyboard, the “W” key in easy reach. Certainly easier than those that used to start with the letter “F” and go to a number: F1, F2, all the way up to F12.  Of course on newer keyboards those keys have little pictures: A question mark for help, a little WiFi symbol for WiFi, and various kinds of arrows that you’ve probably never used.

At a recent meeting of CAR, the Committee for Alphabet Reform, some people were aghast.  But others say “W” is redundant.  If you need a double “U,” simply press the “U” key twice.

And, some reformers point out, there are words that already are spelled with double “Us.” Vacuum. Some even have quadruple “Us.” Muumuu was the original spelling for that tent-like dress, though now you often see it spelled m.u.m.u.

Another example: continuum.

German is much more generous with “uu” than English.  

Most members of CAR agree that 25 letters would be a much cleaner number for an alphabet.  Nothing much comes in groups of 26.  Two dozen is 24.  The quarter is one of the most popular coins.  A score is 20.

Did you ever have to answer a question in 26 words or less?  Of course not. It’s always 25 or 50.

Speed limit 26 MPH? Never.

Nothing prominent comes in 26s.  Except maybe the lyrics to the song “Santa Catalina,” “26 miles in a leaky old boat…”

So it’s agreed, right?  Twenty five letters is more elegant than 26.  It has that feel of solidity, something needed in today’s fast-changing unstable weather and political days.

-- Here’s how the the Village Voice (Wessay #1836) celebrated Labor Day.  It fired 13 of its 17 union workers. In recent contract negotiations the paper’s new owners wanted to eliminate provisions covering severance, retirement contributions, child care and affirmative action language (per the NY Times.)

--Here’s how France celebrates labor day. The new prince… er … president has proposed a sweeping overhaul of work laws in which traditional worker wages, rights and benefits dilute like a cheap wine. You can tell a lot about something by looking at the people who like it and Europe’s other austerity crazed governments are cheering.

--College football is underway. Once again the sound of metal detectors at stadium gates is heard in the land.  And the sound of cracking heads.

-At least football players use their heads for something.

-College football is just another justification for getting drunk and serious drinkers don’t need an excuse.

-When they card you at the bar it used to be to see if you were old enough to drink but often now it’s to see if you qualify for the senior discount.

-A new gas station opened around the corner --and a rarity here in Pennsylvania -- it also sells beer so you can tank up and tank up at the same time.

-There are no lines at the gas pumps but the beer pumps are another story.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2017

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