I prefer Whippen. It carries more of the SOUND of the german V than spelling it as Wippen. The lack of an h in english changes the etymology of the phonetics.
I actually agree with this. I don't usually debate Ed McMorrow about anything since his focus on Piano Technology is in a fundamentally different place than mine. That is not to say that I have found much of anything upon which to disagree with him. He has his focus and I have mine.
Nevertheless, as a person who speaks three languages fluently and have some working knowledge of three more, (which includes some knowledge of German), what I know is that a word in the English language is spelled as it is most commonly because of the frequency with which people use it and how they use it, including how they spell it. Dictionaries such as can be found online often list alternate spellings but usually do not stipulate that a less common spelling is inappropriate.
For example, on our recent trip to a town near the Mississippi River where we all went on a river boat cruise, the origin of the word, "highfalutin" came up. The way I just spelled it is the way a dictionary lists it. The dictionary also says the origin is unknown or not clear. However, I have long known that it comes from a colloquialism used during the time when people used the river boat for actual transportation.
The people on such a boat who could afford a first class ticket went to the upper decks where it was cooler and less crowded than the cheaper seats below. There were chimneys which could have themselves been perceived as "flutes" or the tops of them been known to be "fluted" as in the image below:
The people who could afford to travel on the upper decks were literally "high fluting" people. That term could have easily morphed its pronunciation to "high falutin' ". The dictionary just combines the two words and eliminates the apostrophe. But that means that the expression itself could be spelled, "high fluting", high flutin' ", high falutin' " or simply, "highfalutin" as the dictionary suggests is the most common spelling. No particular variant is really more correct than the other because of the origin of the word. It is most commonly a spoken more than written word. So is "whippen" and "wippen".
Upon a quick check with Google translate (which we all know can be useful or lead us astray, so any directly translated word using that tool can result in quite a laughable result), the fourth definition that I found for "wippen" a verb in German, is to "bob up and down". I found that to be the most appropriate translation in this context.
American English nomenclature developed largely from piano factory jargon in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. At that time, there were many German immigrants. Apparently, the verb, "wippen" is a less commonly used verb in German. However, if it was observed that the Repetition Assembly (as one could choose to call it but elicit the question, "The what?") by a German speaking factory worker "bobbed (or rocked) up and down", then the German verb, "wippen" could easily have been applied to that observation. Other workers who did not understand German, would have heard it and took the word into their vocabulary.
Across the decades, the origin of the word was most likely forgotten (as with "highfalutin") but as they say, "The name stuck". The "v" sound or the "w" in German, morphed into the "w" sound of English but perhaps as Ed so astutely suggests, with the slight distinction between "w" and "wh" (the latter which is pronounced more like, "hw").
I used to think that "whippen" implied a "whipping" motion until I heard of the German verb origin. Then, I thought that "whippen" was incorrect and the word should be spelled "wippen". But I must admit that I was always uncomfortable with that spelling. It just did not seem right. I have a nomenclature book with piano terms in 6 languages. It offers the word this way: "w(h)ippen". In other words, that publication had noted that the term was often spelled both ways but was not making a judgment about that.
Let's take an example from English: Do you make a pronunciation distinction between, "whether" and "weather"? "Which" and "witch". I do, although the distinction is slight. Do you pronounce the word, "what" as "wut" or as "hwut"?
I pronounce it both ways, depending on the formality of the circumstances. Same as for "why" as either "hwi" or simply, "wi" (as in, Wi-Fi). No one would ever say, "hwi-fi", lol.
I am not a linguistics expert but I know a lot about that subject because of experience. I know how distinctions in dialects occur and how one language morphs into another such as Latin into modern Italian and the ancient Anglo-Saxon tongue into modern English. Both of those examples have many variants. I give credit to Ed in this instance for his very astute observation. The "v" sound of the original German verb could have easily morphed into the "hw" sound. Therefore, the word does seem instinctively to me to be better pronounced as "hwippen" rather than "wippen".
So, the answer to your question is that you may choose to spell or pronounce it either way and you will be understood. Only the most pedantic of people would ever bat an eye over it. Neither one is really any more correct than the other. In light of Ed's observation however, I think I am going to go back to spelling it as "whippen" because I tend to pronounce it that way anyway, in spite of knowing that the word's origin was pronounced, "vippen". If I were to write an article for the PTG Journal, however which used that term, I would ask the editor which witch is currently en vogue
. Whatever answer I got would be the correct
answer, to be sure.