From: busmanus (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Thu Jul 08 2004 - 15:27:05 CDT
You will need a Unicode font with Central-European an IPA
characters to read my examples.
Mike Ayers wrote:
> > Perhaps it is. But then it's partly due to the "lazy" tradition.
> Are you implying that, had printers throughout the centuries put
> the effort into faithfully reproducing every obscure symbol from every
> foreign language, that the modern American would accept words with
> arbitrary diacritics?
I do not pretend to know, but "accept" is probably not the best word
to use in this context, after all it's not about the spelling of
English words. And not every tradition needs to be hundreds of
> > I don't think it's a problem with any given diacritical. Its rather
> > an indistinct horror of diacriticals in general in speakers of a
> > language without any diacriticals at all, like English. E.g.
> > Hungarian uses three diacriticals and Hungarian speakers make no
> > big deal of just ignoring the "meaningless" caron in Czech or
> > the grave
> > and the cedilla in Roumanian names.
> > On the other hand, I must admit, that we also can be quite brutal
> > to diacriticals in some newspapers or when it comes to a language
> > like Vietnamese...
> In other words, you're pretty comfortable with your own
> diacritics. You make my point for me.
"Our own" are the acute (to show vowel length), the diaeresis
(to show timbre, like in German) and the doubleacute (=a "stretched
diaeresis" actually, to show both timbre and length at the same
time). The caron or the cedilla are just as foreign for us as e.g.
the odd "question marks" above Vietnamese vowels, even if they
may be less unusual. And the case of the newpapers I'm talking about
may be just classic examples of lazy typography, at least the silly
spelling mistakes and other inaccuracies they allow themselves point
in that direction. In books by any serious publisher, it would
definitely be completely unacceptable to write e.g. Hašek's name
(a famous Czech satyrist) as Hasek.
Once we got into this debate, let me quote an example where
distinguishing between diacritics as "familiar" and "unfamiliar" may
lead to undesirable results. Imagine, someone writes an article about
a person named Törőcsik [tørøːʧik] (we accidentally have an actress
by that surname). Suppose the journalist thinks it reasonable to retain
the "familiar" diaeresis, because it is found in German and many other
well-known orthographies. But what should be the fate of the
doubleacute (which is actually nothing but a special kind of diaeresis,
as I mentioned above)? As an "unfamiliar" diacritic, it should be
discarded if the principle is applied mechanically. This would result
in the form "Törocsik" [tøroʧik]; however, as you may see from the
phonetic transcription, this is not simply incomplete information
in such a context, but explicit misinformation. The less cruel
approach would be to replace the "special diaeresis" with the "normal"
one and write "Töröcsik" [tørøʧik]. This is undoubtedly the least
unacceptable of the "diacritic-folded" variants mathematically possible,
but it is neither a proper English transcription because of the
diaereses and the unusual value of the consonant cluster "cs", nor
correct Hungarian because of "denying" the long vowel, so what is it
There may not be an easy way to solve sucht situations, so that
everybody would be pleased, but at least thinking about them does no
harm. Sorry for being so long, perhaps someone finds my data
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