Missed the really obvious one, IMO, and the one my brother always cited when telling a teacher that W was sometimes a vowel: owl.

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Owl is a two-syllable word, so you then ask what the vowel in the second syllable is, and your choices are the L or the W.

I suspect that this is because W or “double-u” was originally a double U, and so the word was really ouul, and pronounced ou-ul, or “ow-wul”. But I could be wrong about that.I am not wrong, however, about owl being an incredibly common word where the W is obviously a vowel.

LINK TO COLUMN: http://www.ubraintv-jp.com.com/columns/read/499/is-it-true-w-can-be-used-as-a-vowel


John_W.Kennedy April 28, 2011, 5:15pm #2
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SpyOne:

Missed the really obvious one, IMO, and the one my brother always cited when telling a teacher that W was sometimes a vowel: owl.Owl is a two-syllable word, so you then ask what the vowel in the second syllable is, and your choices are the L or the W.

I suspect that this is because W or “double-u” was originally a double U, and so the word was really ouul, and pronounced ou-ul, or “ow-wul”. But I could be wrong about that.I am not wrong, however, about owl being an incredibly common word where the W is obviously a vowel.

“Owl” is not a two-syllable word in most dialects. (Indeed, if I were an expert dialectician, I could probably make a fair guess at where you live based on the fact that you say that.) And the connection between w and “double u” is much more complicated than that. The usual Middle English spelling of the word is “oule”, pronounced, approximately, “oh-leh”.


Soliloquy April 28, 2011, 5:22pm #3

Owl is a one-syllable word. It’s contains a diphthong.

I can’t think of any word in which “w” is used as a vowel.

ETA: I can’t think of any English words, at any rate… W is often used as a vowel in, say, Welsh.


Farmer_Jane April 28, 2011, 6:50pm #4

ugh, I hate that “sometimes y and w” crap in teaching. W is a diphthong, which is like a ‘helper vowel’. “W” can adjust how we pronounce vowels.

Traditional A E I O U vowels have specific purposes that are set apart from dipthongs. Sometimes -ow can sound like ‘ouch’ and sometimes it can sound like a long o. (Cowl v. crow) But you will never see “w” by itself acting as a “vowel” unless it’s borrowed from another language. It just blends two vowel sounds in the same syllable. I highly doubt people with ‘accents’ pay attention to the IPA.

It confuses children to say that it is a vowel imho. In my day, we just called it phonics.

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When my son is reading and he comes across something that doesn’t ‘sound’ right, I remind him that we used to pronounce things differently or I remind him of the phonics rule.

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Sometimes he uses a very literal phonetic pronunciation of a word he doesn’t know and then says the entire sentence in fake British-like accent or just reads the word before it and figures it out. Then he says English is stupid.

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He can actually blend consonants and vowels faster in Hebrew than in English and he doesn’t even know what he’s reading.
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My son’s teachers don’t even TEACH VOWELS. It frustrates me. They do ending sounds and blending. So he gets lists with endings like:

-ould-ow-ar-ing

I spent a week teaching him the basics of A E I O U and (Later, how Y can sub for E or say I). Dipthongs I just teach in groups. No use in confusing a six year old.