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Thread: The German 'W' , the English 'W' --- whence the difference ?

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    Senior Member Carl's Avatar
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    The German 'W' , the English 'W' --- whence the difference ?

    When Woden enters Denmark, I am told, he naturally looses the W -- or was it V !

    This has provoked some confusion in the minds of Englishfolk. Where does the different pronounciation of the initial Germanic W arrive - and when?


    Was the original ?Wodenaz sounded " with a W or a V" ? What about the Saxons ( and Woden) at the time of the Migration? Surely there was no difference in sound from their close neighbours in Jutland slightly further north?

    What is the origin of the difference which now clearly exists between the subsequent respective languages..... not that it is at all a problem to us , but I am mystified as to where this change might have happened.
    Last edited by Carl; Sunday, November 30th, 2008 at 09:31 PM. Reason: new intro supplied for split 'investigation thread'.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl View Post
    -- or was it V !
    It was W, pronounced as the English do. We're quite unique within Germandom, and even within IEandom, for keeping the original value of this consonant.

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    Senior Member Carl's Avatar
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    I was speaking of the sounding in olden times before the migration!

    Quote Originally Posted by Oswiu View Post
    It was W, pronounced as the English do. We're quite unique within Germandom, and even within IEandom, for keeping the original value of this consonant.
    Woden entered old Jutland from the 'German' south... nothing to do with England then... there was no England until the ancestors arrived!


    -- so the question really was - did the old Germanics say " Woden" or "Voden".... after all, Germans now would say Woden as in our vote ( =english sounding here) . There is today this clear difference between the German and English pronounciation of W! But how was it there - then ........??

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl View Post
    ..... I was speaking of the sounding in olden times before the migration!
    As was I! It's pretty much a dead cert that ProtoGermanic had the W value that can still be seen in English, everyone else having (for reasons best known to themselves, but no doubt grounded in wicked contrariness) turned it into the sound we in England write as V.

    This ProtoGermanic W is a retention from PIE itself, which had the same consonant.

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    Senior Member Carl's Avatar
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    So what about the time of the migration - about which I was speaking... lets not go into pre-historic times !!

    If the AngloSaxons used an English W ( this is what is being said) then when did the Germans 'back home' change over to sounding W as an 'English' V ? ( f ex as in wasser)

    Interesting that when we now speak of 'Wagner' and his 'Wotan' , the English merrily use the V; clearly we aren't too hostile about learning new Germanic things! But not so our old Woden you seem to say.....


    Its true though; we dont now use a V when we speak of the old southern Weald ( Wald) nor of the Wealas nor of the Wyrd...... so, not even in the earliest times it would appear... (?)

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    Many Germans pronounce the "W" the same as English. Some don't, depending on regional dialect. When they standardized German they decided to go with the "V" sounding pronounciation.

    I have also heard people from East Europe who pronounce all their V's as W's. Like Wodka for Vodka. And then others who can only say the V so then they say Vine for Wine.

    Sound shifts seem to be pretty common among isolated groups of people (like back in the old days without cars or TV etc.). Like the p- pyre of greek (pyro) became f- fire of Germanics. F often turn into P's and P's often turn into F's. It's a common occurance. Same with W and V.

    You have other interesting sound shifts:

    The "t" in old German is an "ss" in modern German.

    Water=Wasser. Hot- heiss. let= lass. Another common shift which also occurred in modern Russian- D's at the end become t's. Blood= blut. even when spelled with a D it is pronounced t- leid.

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    Senior Member Carl's Avatar
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    Interesting . But any guess as to when the changes occured within Germany?? Oswiu says that the old ASaxons used W ; so did those northern Germans also ( presumably yes).... perhaps there was a real distinction already between the north and the south ... they have , after all, very different tribal roots...

    The Scandinavians dropped the W from Woden ; I am told they dont use the sounded W at all.

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    Can I ask a related question? Why do the English and Americans say "Double-U" to "W"?

    "Judge of your natural character by what you do in your dreams" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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    I don't know why but.... in the Latin alphabet, V is used in place of U. For example all Federal Courthouses, court is spelled COVRT. Latin doesn't (or didn't ) have the letter W either. The W looks like a double V but maybe it was symbol for double U which use to be written a V.

    Latin doesn't (or didn't) have a J either. For example Ion or Ian instead of Jo(h)n or Jan.

    Question: How do German/Dutch speakers say "W"?

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    Senior Member Carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Æmeric View Post
    I don't know why but.... in the Latin alphabet, V is used in place of U. For example all Federal Courthouses, court is spelled COVRT. Latin doesn't (or didn't ) have the letter W either. The W looks like a double V but maybe it was symbol for double U which use to be written a V.

    Latin doesn't (or didn't) have a J either. For example Ion or Ian instead of Jo(h)n or Jan.

    Question: How do German/Dutch speakers say "W"?

    yes I agree. As you indicate VV (? UU) = W. I've assume it was how it was written. Remember the old AS scribes were using Latin as well.

    Question: How do German/Dutch speakers say "W"

    German Wasser is sounded with a V (english) - how is this W sounded in northern Platt Deutsch -- is that right ?? or even in Frisian....

    my original question still stands:

    http://forums.skadi.net/showpost.php...13&postcount=3

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