English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Possible Duplicate:
Should you always use the accent in foreign words like “résumé”?
“Whereäs” as an alternative spelling of “whereas”
Is it spelt “naïve” or “naive”?

Merriam-Webster lists both spellings without any comment on validity / usage. The second variant seems to be the French original, and the other the "anglified" version.

Is there even a slight, maybe stylistic, difference?

share|improve this question

marked as duplicate by coleopterist, Mitch, MετάEd, RegDwigнt Oct 12 '12 at 23:52

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

I'm under the impression that this word has an accent-free spelling. As tchrist said, this accent-free spelling is probably due to the lack of dieresis on many typewriters, at least in an historical perspective. However, I suggest you "naive" as primary spelling. – user19148 Oct 12 '12 at 16:08
@coleopterist maybe 'related', but not 'possible duplicate'; sorry, but I disagree with you on voting to close. – user19148 Oct 12 '12 at 16:10

The stylistic difference is that writing naïve without the diaeresis comes off as rough and slip-shod, almost careless.

There is no other word in English whose pronunciation would work that way, which is quite different from how waive works. That means that the price of a diaeresis is adding a brand new rule or exception to English. That’s too high a price to pay.

A better spelling for those who can’t be bothered to write the diaeresis might be something nayeeve or even nigheve, but no one writes that.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.