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I understand why naïve is spelled with two dots, and that those dots are called a diaeresis.

What I do not understand is whether the use of a diaeresis is legal in English; is it?

Other than naïve, I am hard pressed to come up with another example of a word that uses a diaeresis.

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marked as duplicate by KitFox Mar 25 '13 at 13:35

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Yes, of course it is “legal”. The Oxford English Dictionary includes all these words with either diaereses or umlauts in them:

achroö-, aïoli, Ångström (unit), arsinoïtherium, Aufklärer, Aufklärung, bastnäsite, beënt, Boötes, Böttger, bratwürste,bröggerite, Brontëan, Brontëana, Brontëism, Brückner, cacoëpistic, cacoëpy, caïque, caïquejee, Chün, cinnameïn, Danaïdean, denkmäler, dzongpön, einfühlung, Eötvös, epiploön, faröelite, faux-naïf, flügelhorn, föhn, fräulein, Fröbel, Fröhlich, Führer,gefüllte fish, gemütlich, Gemütlichkeit, Gestaltqualität, glögg, glühwein, Gödel, Gödelian, Gödel(’s) theorem, Götterdämmerung, gräben, Grübelsucht, grünauite, grünerite, grünlingite, gümbelite, Günz, hälleflinta, hälleflintoid, haüyne, haüynite, haüynophyr, heröa, heröon, heveëne, hexaëmeron, hübnerite, hügelite, hühnerkobelite, hydantoïn, hyperoödon, Identitätsphilosophie, jäger,kaïd, kämmererite, kësterite, Klebs-Löffler, knödel, kochubeïte, kulturträger, kümmel, Kümmell’s disease, Künstlerroman, Kuo-yü, lagerstätte, lagerstätten, Länder, ländler, langue d’oïl, Laocoön, lekë, Lieberkühn, Lieberkühnian, löllingite, löweite, löwigite,lünebergite, Lung-ch’üan, märchen, Marie-Strümpell, Marinesco-Sjögren syndrome, mässig, Meistersänger, Meistersängers, melopoeïa, microaërophilous, mitteleuropäisch, Möbius, Moët, monoïdeism, Mössbauer, muisvoël, Müller, müller, Müllerian, Müller-Lyer, Müller’s larva, Müller-Thurgau, naïd, naïdes, naïf, naïfly, naïs, naïve, naïvely, naïveness, naïveté, naïvety, nordenskiöldine,onomatopoësis, ouabaïn, panzoöty, penniä, Perrier-Jouët, ploïmate, Plücker, Plückerian, poë-bird, Prägnanz, prosenneëdrous, purpureïn, Qualitätswein, Querflöte, Ragnarök, Reichsführer, rohrflöte, Rörstrand, rötheln, rumänite, salonfähig, Salpausselkä, salpingo-oöphorectomy, salpingo-oöphoritis, Sängerfest, Schabzieger Käse, Schätzi, Schimpfwörter, Schiötz, schmierkäse, Schönlein,schröckingerite, Schröder, Schrödinger (wave, ψ-) function, Schrödinger, Schrödinger(’s) (wave) equation, Schüller-Christian, Schutzbündler, schwärm, schwärmer, schwärmerei, schwärmerin, schwärmerisch, Sjögren, sjögrenite, Sörensen, Spätlese, Spätzle, Spielräume, Spitzflöte, Spörer, Spörer minimum, Spörer’s law, Sprachgefühl, Standartenführer, staphisaïne, Steinhäger, strüverite, Sturmbannführer, tetraëterid, tetrastoön, thebaïcine, Thebaïd, thebaïne, thebaïsm, thymoïl, thymoïlamide, Töpler, triacontaëterid,trögerite, Türkmen, über alles, Überfremdung, überhaupt, Übermensch, übermenschlich, Übermenschlichkeit, ulvöspinel, väyrynenite, Versöhnung, Volapük, Volapüker, Völkerwanderung, Völkerwanderungen, völkisch, Vöslauer, wabaïn, Waldenström, Wandervögel,Widmanstätten, Wöhler, wölsendorfite, Wörter und Sachen, Würm, Würmian, Würtemberg siphon, Württemberger, wüstite, xanthoxyloïn, yüeh, Yüeh, yüeh ch’in, Zöllner.

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+1 Thank you. That being said, most of these words do not appear in mainstream usage as often as naive. And some are just transferred over from the original usage in the source language, such as Türkmen. –  Sabuncu Mar 25 '13 at 13:52
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@Sabuncu You should definitely see this answer here. You can still click the outlined checkmark on this current question to accept it even though it is marked as a duplicate. They may merge it later, though. –  tchrist Mar 25 '13 at 14:18
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Adding umlauts to an answer about diaereses is wantonly confusing; the former indicate a foreign origin in writing (and may or may not affect pronunciation in English), while the latter affect pronunciation but are effectively optional in writing. –  TimLymington Mar 25 '13 at 15:35
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@Sabuncu Yes, of course it is “legal” — whatever that means. Those are all from the OED, which documents what people actually use. –  tchrist Mar 25 '13 at 17:56
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Has Noël been cancelled? –  Edwin Ashworth Mar 25 '13 at 18:20

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