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In English, we call w "double-u", referring to the original representation of [w], which looked like uu, or two us. Then, in French, they pronounce it "double-veh", presumably because the modern form looks like two vs or "veh".

The question is: do all languages which utilise the Latin alphabet do a similar thing, giving a name to the letter which refers to either the letters u or v? Or the converse question: is there any language which has a unique name for w, whose etymology is not linked to another letter in any recognisable way?

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    Yes, the letter <w> is pronounced /we/ in German, which is not derived from either <u> /?u/ or <v> /fau/. – robert Aug 24 '14 at 21:51
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    To the down-voter, is this question off-topic? – Lou Aug 25 '14 at 11:42
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    Originally there was no difference between "U" and "V" in the Latin alphabet. When "w" was invented, it was indeed a doubled form of that letter, hence some languages call it "double u" yet others "double v". – Joe Pineda Sep 2 '14 at 2:20
  • @JoePineda didn't the sound /w/ exist before w's invention? – Lưu Vĩnh Phúc Sep 3 '14 at 7:48
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    @LưuVĩnhPhúc of course it did, in Latin at least. Emperor Claudius, being the keen amateur linguist he was, readily noticed that slight ambiguity in Latin's spelling (having same letter for both "u" and "w" sounds) and proposed a new letter, an upside-down "F", to denote the "w" sound. He went on and invented 2 other ones for "bs" and "y" sounds - the last one solving the ambiguity still present in modern Romance spellings of using "i" for both "ee" as in "bee" and "y" as in "young". – Joe Pineda Sep 15 '14 at 21:06
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    As stated, Germans and Poles call V /faw/ and W /ve/ and /vu/ respectively, so there is no direct link between them. – Arsen Jul 5 '17 at 13:31
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    I didn't say there are any relation between German and Polish – Lưu Vĩnh Phúc Jul 5 '17 at 13:34
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    @LưuVĩnhPhúc I think Arsen is saying there's no link between the names for <v> and <w>, as specified in the question. – Draconis Jul 5 '17 at 16:14
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    There's a similar phenomenon to that of Italian in Belgian French, where the usual /dublœve/ is instead /we/ in acronyms. Other French dialects don't do this afaik – Eau qui dort Jul 5 '17 at 19:29
  • In Welsh, the letter <w> is simply pronounced /u/; there's no ambiguity because <u> is not pronounced /u/. – Mark Beadles Jul 6 '17 at 21:11
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As Robert said, it is /ve/ in German, and thus also in Dutch.

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