Re: Multilingual Documents

From: A. Vine (
Date: Mon Dec 06 1999 - 14:27:08 EST

I can't remember whether it was this list or another i18n, but "correct" as far
as using borrowed words' diacritics is not universal. It appears in different
Englishes and different dictionaries and style books, there are varying
prescriptions for writing borrowed words which originally contained diacritics.

I would agree with the spelling of "apropos", but I think some of the dispute
was around "cafe" or "café".

In any case, I looked up words in several dictionaries (Webster's,
Merriam-Webster, American Heritage), consulted "The Chicago Manual of Style",
and queried the American Dialect Society List, where other sources were quoted.
It seems that "correctness" is all over the map.

Andrea Vine
Sun-Netscape Alliance i18n architect

Michael Everson wrote:
> Ar 15:12 -0800 1999-12-03, scríobh Tony Harminc:
> >This brings up the point that not all occurrences of foreign words or
> >phrases in a document are in that foreign language. English, most
> >notably, borrows without shame, and I think that phrases like "au
> >fait" or "a propos" found in an English document can fairly be said
> >to be in English rather than French. Certainly many such are listed
> >in English dictionaries, and most English users will not use accented
> >letters where the French would require them. They are also used as
> >part of English grammatical constructs, (e.g. I might say "a propos
> >of such and such...") rather than as quoted foreign text.
> The correct spelling of this naturalized English word is "apropos"; I
> checked because I would assume that, naturalized or not, if it were "a
> propos" it should be "à propos". In fact I would have spelled it that way,
> and was surprised to find that I was wrong... :-)
> The rules (for English) are that naturalized words (like "façade" and
> "après-ski") are written in plain type (accent stripping is not the rule)
> but that foreign words (like "auberge" and "berceuse") are written in
> italics. Apropos the subject line, I have no idea whether anyone would
> think to build such foreign terms into spelling/grammar checkers but I
> suppose in 500 years it will be commonplace....
> Michael Everson * Everson Gunn Teoranta *
> 15 Port Chaeimhghein Íochtarach; Baile Átha Cliath 2; Éire/Ireland
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