I have a friend named Chloe (pronounced Clo-ee). She writes her name using an accent mark over the e. A friend of ours thinks that the accent mark means unstressed, so that her name is pronounced Clo-eh. Does the accent mark mean stressed or unstressed? I've seen other names that use a double dot over the e to mark something as stressed, like in the name Zoe.

  • Isn't Chloe with the accent French and make it pronunced Chlo-Ay? I know some use the double dot to stress the "ee" sound, but I've always wondered if the double dot goes over the "o" or the "e" in the name Chloe? – user40361 Mar 26 '13 at 21:16
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    Your question asks about stress, but I think you actually mean pronounced rather than silent. – tchrist Mar 26 '13 at 21:26

Standard Written English doesn't use diacritics,¹ so there is no consensus for what they mean when you do use them. That is, a native speaker may not think that "Chloë" or "Chloé" is meant to be pronounced differently than "Chloe", and even if they do, no two speakers will necessarily agree on what the pronunciation is.

Culturally, people are entitled to dictate both the spelling and the pronunciation of their names. If your friend says that her name is pronounced "Clo-ee" and spelt "Chloé", then she is correct. But your other friend who says that her name is pronounced "Cluh" and spelt "Chloé" is also correct. And your other other friend who says that his name is pronounced "David" but spelt "Da5id" is correct too.

¹ as pointed out in the comments, names spelled according to the rules of another language are typically reproduced verbatim in English text, including diacritics if any, but English speakers generally won't know what the diacritics indicate unless they recognize and are familiar with the source language.

  • If by “accent marks”, you mean diacritics, you’re actually mistaken in the case of people’s names, whether it’s François Mitterand, Federico Peña, or Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir. You can see this in quality periodicals such as the New York Times, the Economist, or the New Yorker. Fish wrappers don’t count. – tchrist Mar 27 '13 at 0:02
  • Yes, I did mean diacritics, I just couldn't remember the word right then. Anyhow, your examples are inapposite, being all people with names whose spelling is dictated by a language other than English -- of course one carries over a name verbatim from another language, diacritics and all, if the technology permits. Within English, there is no universal standard for what diacritics mean, and even if someone is following a common convention (diaresis to indicate a syllable split, eg.), I think it unlikely that the majority of readers would know that was the intent. – zwol Mar 27 '13 at 14:54
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    Actually, a diaeresis has a perfectly well defined and agreed upon meaning in English native words, like coöperate, zoölogy, reëlect, and all the rest like those. It just isn't used that much for that purpose these days. – tchrist Mar 27 '13 at 16:26
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    I am a strict descriptivist, and I'm quite confident that most speakers don't know that anymore, so by me it no longer counts as an agreed-upon rule. – zwol Mar 27 '13 at 16:37

No, Chloë and Zoë are still stressed on the penult even when written as Chloé and Zoé.

Once upon a time people would write learnéd instead of learnèd, but it doesn’t change the stress in English — as opposed to in inglés, where it does.


As a Chloe myself, and in Montréal, I've grown used to Anglophones saying "Chlo-ee" and Francophones saying "Chlo-ay" and it's fun having 2 prononciations to my name. I like the ë personally but I don't care how people say it.


I think the two dots above the e mean two es so if it was just one e then you would pronounce it chlo (I am called Chloë as well).

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