Member since Jan '06

Working languages:
English (monolingual)
Norwegian to English
Danish to English
Norwegian (Bokmal) to English

William [Bill] Gray
Working with words

Norway
Local time: 13:58 CET (GMT+1)

Native in: English Native in English
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Many people wonder why Englishmen whose first name is William, receive the abbreviation, "Bill"

Famous "Bills" are known to us all: Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, Buffalo Bill, etc. But many people wonder why a name beginning with "W" would get a "B" in the abbreviation.

To find this out, we have to go back to the early Irish language. The grapheme for the "v" sound was "bh". Thus, the original name of Dublin, was actually (and still is for Irish speakers) "Dubhlin" (meaning "black pool" by the way). After a while the "bh" was made easier to write by using just the "b" and putting a small dot (a "pointing") over the bulge of the letter.

As the language developed, and especially when the English came to Ireland, the "b" with the pointing lost its proper "v" sound, and became pronounced as "b". The name Wilhelm from the German was pronounced "Vilhelm" and the Irish/English picked up the abbreviation as "Bill".









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