How to say 'uu' and 'w' [double-u?]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by HyeeWang, Jul 7, 2010.

  1. HyeeWang Senior Member

    How to pronounce letter 'w' and 'double u or uu' distinctly ? please tell the difference.
    Many thanks.
  2. fsm* Senior Member

    Hello HyeeWang,
    Can you please be more specific? Are you asking how to pronounce the names of the letters, or how to pronounce them within a word?
  3. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    Do you have a word in mind that presents the problem of pronouncing uu?
  4. HyeeWang Senior Member

    Sorry for unclearness.

    1. I am imagining a situation. The name of something is 'uu',not within any other words. How to prounounce 'uu' ? I can not find any difference with "w".

    2. If someone is telling me the spelling of a new word,how can I know it is "w" or "uu" he/she saying?
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2010
  5. fsm* Senior Member

    Oh, I see now. In that case, it would be better to say "u" "u" rather than "double u" to avoid confusion. It is true that in most cases we would say "double" for a double letter (for example "double t") when there is no possibility of confusion.
  6. HyeeWang Senior Member

    Where there are confusions,try to avoid it.
  7. Adge Senior Member

    Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain
    USA- English (Southern)
    I can't think of many words in English that have two u's, so that shouldn't ever be a problem. Also, I don't think it's very common in AE (I could just be crazy?) to even say "double t" or "double r" when spelling anyways. I always just repeat the letter.
  8. iskndarbey Senior Member

    Lima, Perú
    US, English
    I don't usually say 'double x' for spelling words, but rather I say the name of the letter twice. This is what you should do if you ever need to spell 'vacuum' for example -- although other than that there are virtually no English words which contain 'uu'.
  9. HyeeWang Senior Member

    Thank you for comments.! Adge and iskndarbey
  10. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    As far as I know it's only vacuum and continuum that have two u's. (At a pinch, maybe also equus.) Even if someone said 'double u' here, it would be clear that two u's are meant here because the words would be difficult to pronounce as vacwm and continwm!*

    Historically, of course, the w letter could certainly be written as uu.

    *However, there is the Welsh word cwm, that is sometimes used in English.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2010
  11. HyeeWang Senior Member

    Natkretep. Thank you for the terminology about uu.
  12. BRUNELDINO New Member

    Due to misunderstanding whether there was uu or w in the Listening section of IELTS test I lost one point. Even though it was only kind of practice, not a real exam, I was a bit disappointed. This is an extract from Listening Typescript:
    F: And the post code?
    M: It's SW2 5GE.
  13. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I'm sorry you lost your mark, Bruneldino. As I said 2 years ago, the context makes it clear what is meant, but in the case of your example you needed to be familiar with the British postcode system which always begins with one or two letters followed by a number.

    Welcome to the Forum!
  14. Biffo Senior Member

    English - England
    To sum up
    1. If you hear 'double-you' spoken you should always assumes it means 'w'.
    2. If you yourself are spelling a word out loud that contains two u's (e.g. vacuum) you should always say 'you-you'
  15. _Natalie_ Member

    English - Australia
    I think there is a slight but still noticable difference between the way "w" and "double u" are pronounced. With the prior I feel the "double" runs on quicker to the "you", with a slightly lazy pronounciation of the "double". However there is a more obvious gap between the two words in the latter. It would take practice for a non-native speaker, but I think the two are still able to be distinguished a large percentage of the time (even with no context).
  16. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    I think that AmE* rarely uses "double-X" while other forms of English use it freely. This applies to numbers (such as phone numbers - which even use "treble") and letters (in spelling out words as in this case). Thus in AusE, double-you would sound different for w and uu, as Natalie noted, while in AmE those words would always mean w.
    Although it spunds child-like, I like the sound os wubble-you for the letter w:D

    *In abbreviations sometimes: NCAA is often "en see double ay" etc.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2012
  17. BRUNELDINO New Member

    Thank's a lot for your explanation, Natkretep!
  18. Gotmyact2gether New Member

    Curiously, the "uu"' in vacuum is a dipthong, while the "uu" in continuum, is broken up into two separate syllables.
  19. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Sorry to be pernickety (or in AmE persnickety), Gotmyact2gether, the <uu> in vacuum is not a diphthong for me, but has an on-glide yoo (in IPA /ju:/).

    Welcome to the Forum! :)
  20. Beryl from Northallerton Senior Member

    British English
    As Nat has said, English words containing two consecutive u's are rather unusual, so I'd say that's all the more reason to avoid the misunderstanding that could potentially arise from pronouncing them as 'double u', even if, like me, you're in the habit of calling out other double letters with a 'double' (for me 'etiquette' has a double 't').

    So here's my 'Weltanschauung':

    'Double you, ee, el, tea, eh, en, es, sea, aitch, eh, you, you, en, gee.' (/ˈdʌb(ə)ljuː/ /iː/ /ɛl/ /tiː/ /eɪ/ /ɛn/ /ɛs/ /siː/ /eɪtʃ/ /eɪ/ /juː/ /juː/ /ɛn/ /ʤiː/)

    or better still,

    'Double you, ee, el, tea, eh, en, es, sea, aitch, eh, two yews, en, gee.' (/ˈdʌb(ə)ljuː/ /iː/ /ɛl/ /tiː/ /eɪ/ /ɛn/ /ɛs/ /siː/ /eɪtʃ/ /eɪ/ /tuː/ /juːz/ /ɛn/ /ʤiː/)
  21. duvija

    duvija Senior Member

    Spanish - Uruguay
    So you think Eng. diphthongs only have off-glides? (and therefore there are only: 'ay/ey/oy/aw')?
  22. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    OK, slightly in danger of going astray. In the British tradition of representing your vowels, your examples are diphthongs:

    /aɪ/ (or /ʌɪ/) /eɪ/ /ɔɪ/ /aʊ/

    because vowel symbols have been used.
  23. velisarius Senior Member

    British English (Sussex)
    Re: post#12, about the listening part of the English test, I suspect candidates were expected to discern the difference when hearing W (double yew) and UU (double Yew.). The difference in stress is quite clear I think, at least in British English.
  24. duvija

    duvija Senior Member

    Spanish - Uruguay
    The difference is clear in Am.Eng too, but most people don't know it, they just hear it and understand the words being said (very hard for foreigners, of course). It's the same difference as in compounds (White house vs. white house, or Highchair vs. high chair)
  25. duvija

    duvija Senior Member

    Spanish - Uruguay
    Sure, those are the diphthongs I wrote with plain letters, just for beginners - and for the tradition in the USA. It's funny that the onglides are not treated as part of diphthongs (I mean, because they are considered more consonantal than vocallic). Even in something as clear as 'cute', this is still not considered a diphthong.

    In other languages (like Spanish), the onglides and offglides are treated the same because of their
    properties, and both are diphthongal.
  26. tifrob New Member


    Ancient Latin did not contain the letters /W/, /J/ or /Y/, and the English who at some stage adopted the Latin alphabet imitated the letter /W/ with /UU/.

    Thus, as I understand it the very ancient English language díd contain some or other letter that were originally something written or/and pronounced close to a /W/.

    Now, what interests me is whát exactly was that ancient English letter - hów was it written and how was it originally pronounced?

    What alphabet did the English use prior to adopting the Latin alphabet for instance?

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