Does English have an "accent mark" ( ¨ ) ??

This is the place to post questions and discussions on usage and style. The members of the Wordwizard Clubhouse will also often be able to help you to formulate that difficult letter.

Does English have an "accent mark" ( ¨ ) ??

Post by daverba » Thu Jul 06, 2006 3:10 am

I have read words such as "naïve" and "coöperation", and I wonder:

--> Does English have a little-known accent mark?

So, I say yes, although an English teacher yelled at me over this.

yourDictionary.com says of the diæresis:

a. A mark (¨) placed over the second of two adjacent vowels to indicate that they are to be pronounced as separate sounds rather than a diphthong, as in naïve.

b. A mark (¨) placed over a vowel, such as the final vowel in Brontë, to indicate that the vowel is not silent.
Post actions:
Signature: "Say any word, and I'll tell you how the root of that word is Greek." - Gus Portokalos, My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Does English have an "accent mark" ( ¨ ) ??

Post by russcable » Thu Jul 06, 2006 4:10 am

While we're being picky, yourDictionary.com doesn't have a listing for diæresis with an ash, just dieresis and diaeresis. Perhaps you should see if the cedilla in façade causes your teacher to produce an onomatopœia with an ethel.
Post actions:

Does English have an

Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu Jul 06, 2006 4:53 am

There's another mark that is occasionally used in English, mostly by poets. I can think of one particular instance that is also notable for its observational inaccuracy.

In The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Coleridge refers to

The hornèd Moon, with one bright star
Within the nether tip.

Coleridge's reference to a star being visible in the dark space space between the two horns of the crescent moon cannot be correct, because this would imply that either it was possible to see through the dark body of the moon to the stars beyond, or that a small star existed between the moon and Earth at the moment the narrator was describing. To the best of my knowledge, neither is the case. (While the horned moon was reputedly a bad omen for sailors, and in the poem foreshadows the calamities that befall the crew on the Ancient Mariner's vessel, I wonder if Coleridge's reference to the star within its nether tip was also intended as a little joke at the expense of his more credulous readers.)

Anyway, regarding the accent: here, the grave accent in 'hornèd' is being used to make the reader aware that this word, which is normally pronounced as a single syllable, is supposed to be sounded as two syllables. In this way it is performing a similar function to the diaeresis, except that instead of being placed above the second of two adjacent vowels, it is placed above the vowel of the second of two adjacent syllables.

That being said, this is a very rare usage, especially today. Nowadays, with much less emphasis or weight of expectation generally being placed on the virtues of prosody, few poets would consider it necessary to shape their readers' awareness of the formal qualities of their output in this way.
Post actions:
Signature: -- Looking up a word? Try OneLook's metadictionary (--> definitions) and reverse dictionary (--> terms based on your definitions)8-- Contribute favourite diary entries, quotations and more here8 -- Find new postings easily with Active Topics8-- Want to research a word? Get essential tips from experienced researcher Ken Greenwald

Does English have an "accent mark" ( ¨ ) ??

Post by minjeff » Thu Jul 06, 2006 7:32 pm

I think as almost always it boils down to personal preference. I prefer (and advocate on behalf of) using the accents, dierases, and "funny" characters. If, however, your teacher doesn't approve then I would suggest for grades' sake that you abstain for his/her assignments.
Post actions:
Signature: Letters go together to make words; words go together to make phrases, and phrases sentences, but only in certain combinations. In others they're just non-sense.

Does English have an "accent mark" ( ¨ ) ??

Post by Edwin Ashworth » Thu Jul 06, 2006 11:04 pm

But don’t give up on fêtes and cafés.
Post actions:

Does English have an "accent mark" ( ¨ ) ??

Post by paulwiggins » Sun Jul 09, 2006 7:31 am

Accents serve no purpose, except as a guide to the correct pronunciation of people's names.
Post actions:

Does English have an "accent mark" ( ¨ ) ??

Post by Erik_Kowal » Sun Jul 09, 2006 9:15 am

Paul, that is plainly not correct: as three of the postings previous to yours have demonstrated, there are some words of foreign origin which would be pronounced quite differently without their accents if their readers followed the pronunciation conventions associated with standard English orthography. For instance, the pronunciation of 'façade' would be transmogrified into 'fakaid', 'café' would become 'caif', and 'naïve' would sound like 'knave'.

Hence the persistence of accents in some loan words serves the purpose of preserving an approximation of correspondence between the English pronunciation with that of the language from which the word has been borrowed, even though this only affects a small minority of the foreign words that have been adopted into English. It could be argued that this is ultimately unimportant; I happen to believe that for anyone who is interested in the history of English, it does make a difference.
Post actions:
Signature: -- Looking up a word? Try OneLook's metadictionary (--> definitions) and reverse dictionary (--> terms based on your definitions)8-- Contribute favourite diary entries, quotations and more here8 -- Find new postings easily with Active Topics8-- Want to research a word? Get essential tips from experienced researcher Ken Greenwald

Does English have an "accent mark" ( ¨ ) ??

Post by Edwin Ashworth » Mon Jul 10, 2006 6:22 pm

Diaereses are tricky in Braille.
Post actions:

Does English have an "accent mark" ( ¨ ) ??

Post by Shelley » Tue Jul 11, 2006 12:56 am

Touchy, too.
Post actions:

Does English have an "accent mark" ( ¨ ) ??

Post by gdwdwrkr » Tue Jul 11, 2006 12:58 am

I see what you're sayin.
Post actions:

Does English have an "accent mark" ( ¨ ) ??

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Jul 11, 2006 1:33 am

For me, it's mainly a matter of joining the dots.
Post actions:
Signature: -- Looking up a word? Try OneLook's metadictionary (--> definitions) and reverse dictionary (--> terms based on your definitions)8-- Contribute favourite diary entries, quotations and more here8 -- Find new postings easily with Active Topics8-- Want to research a word? Get essential tips from experienced researcher Ken Greenwald

Does English have an "accent mark" ( ¨ ) ??

Post by gdwdwrkr » Tue Jul 11, 2006 9:34 am

._ ._.
Post actions:

Does English have an "accent mark" ( ¨ ) ??

Post by spiritus » Thu Jul 13, 2006 10:43 am

Glottal stop. Period. S'cuse my Anglish.
Post actions:
Signature: Che Baraka

Does English have an "accent mark" ( ¨ ) ??

Post by pokoma » Fri Jul 14, 2006 7:18 pm

This topic has been rolling around in my brain for some time now, and I am glad to see it has for others. Three comments:

- So many words, especially past tense verbs, that end in "-ed" lose that syllable, as in "pulled" = /puld/ or "talked" = /tokt/. Yet we have "naked," "crooked," and "ragged" that retain it. "Forked" and "learned" are losing it.

- When I started my formal training as an editor some years ago, word processing was new. I found it odd that although computers suddenly made short work of accented and other special characters, some style guides advocated Anglicizing -- or Americanizing -- everything, i.e., dropping all such marks. Thus, "cafe," "papier mache," and "resume" came out shiny and clean. The problem with "resume" was that job applicants, in an effort to appear more educated, started putting back the accent on the final "e" but not the first one.

- It's a new tidbit for me that a mark indicates the final vowel is pronounced, as in Bronte with the dots over the "e." Following the strict "rules" (that's a joke I won't get into) of English phonics, it probably would anyway. One of the most common rules says that in a word with a vowel-consonant-e ending (VCe), the vowel is long and the "e" is silent. With 2 consonants, all bets are off.
Post actions:

Does English have an "accent mark" ( ¨ ) ??

Post by paulwiggins » Mon Jul 17, 2006 4:31 am

OI'm being perhaps a tad overly modernist These words have been in the English langusage for years people are quite capable of pronouncing cafe, facade, etc correctly without accent marks. Newspapers drop them because news copy is tightly spaced between lines (space is known as leading, pronounced ledding). Most printers follow suit. I'd venture the radical opinion that in the absence of an English Language Academy, printers get the last word on orthography. [Ducks into foxhole at this juncture.]
Post actions:

Post Reply