Ian's Rant – Triple-U

www = Triple-U

We really need a simpler verbal phrase than “Double-U Double-U Double-U”!

Posted: Dec-2007

World Wide Web = WWW

When the “World Wide Web” was invented, no doubt by geeky technicians, they probably thought it was a cute idea to use the acronym “www” for world wide websites. It's a pity they didn't think of the verbal implications of that set of three letters!

Today, whenever a website address is being discussed, we are burdened with having to enunciate the tedious “Double-U  Double-U  Double-U” prefix before getting to the core of the address.

Sure, some people drop the prefix altogether and just use the rest of the domain name, such as “fieggen.com”. In fact, some web browsers allow you to enter just the primary part of a domain name (eg. “fieggen”) without needing the prefix (“www.”) or even the suffix (“.com”).

But really, wouldn't it be nice to have something that's easier to get your tongue around than “Double-U  Double-U  Double-U”?

My suggestion is:


For example, instead of saying –

“Go to  Double-U  Double-U  Double-U  dot  Fieggen  dot  Com”

– we'd instead say –

“Go to  Triple-U  dot  Fieggen  dot  Com”

Okay, I know that technically it's incorrect. Three consecutive “Doubles” add up to a “Triple-Double-U”, or a “Double-U Cubed”, or even a “Hextuple-U”. But all of these defeat the purpose, as they are hardly any easier to verbalise than the original.

By using something that is not currently part of common English usage, and by saying to everyone “Okay, let's adopt this”, it can work. As people recognise the benefits and start to use it, we'll have a new, easier phrase.

I've already started using “Triple-U”, though with accompanying explanations. If at the very least it's taken up by newsreaders, it will have been worth it!

– Ian Fieggen, Dec-2007

Triple-U Feedback

In Greece, while TV ads will always say “double-u, double-u, double-u” aloud so there's no room for ambiguity, but many people shorten it to “woo, woo, woo” (γου, γου, γου) in spoken language. Greek is written phonemically, meaning a letter or dipthong makes one very specific sound and that sound only.

Historically, German and French were held to a higher standard and more commonly taught, but English (of the US in particular) has overtaken them today, so “W” as in “Washington” means Γ (γ, or gamma, the third letter) to a Greek speaker. So we naturally think of W as representing one sound, and that's Γ (W as in “word”, “weeds” etc). It's also why we are so lousy at pronouncing English words. :) For all its tough grammar, pronunciation is very straightforward and if you know any Spanish, the sounds map almost 1:1. I often mistake Spanish for Greek when overhearing it in another country.

With that in mind, I'd instead propose we rename the letter proper to something more convenient. The NATO phonetic alphabet (A for alpha, B for Bravo, W for Whiskey, etc) exists, so we might as well simplify it to one sound in day-to-day use.

Spanish recently did this with the letter Y, which was called “y griega”, but the alternate name of “ye” has been officially accepted by RAE (the global Spanish language authority) recently, and it's seeing some uptake. With time, and if we can rope notable people into calling it that, we might just resolve the root cause of the problem!

No more “double-you”, an one-syllable “woo” will do.

– Yannis A., Aug-2019

Did you also realize that the w is the only letter of the alphabet that is not a one syllable word?

– Jean W, 18-Aug-2009

Hasn't anyone noticed that the character is actually a “double-v”? To reduce further the number of syllables and eliminate the miscount, I advocate “Six-V”. Alternatives for the Wiccan-minded are “Hex-V” and for the romantic, “Sex-V”.

– John R, 11-Feb-2009