86

TL;DR: Ignore diacritics when sorting English — except to break ties. When sorting English text — but not the text of various other languages — one does not distinguish letters with and without diacritics as different unless tie-breaking is required because all letters are the same otherwise. In such a case that two entries differ only by their ...


37

The consensus is... there is no consensus. In fact, some of the style guides I checked didn't even mention it. In that case you can just use the spelling recommended by a dictionary. That's what The Chicago Manual of Style Online recommends: Generally, we leave such things to the dictionary. Our main arbiter in matters of spelling—Webster’s eleventh—tends ...


15

I do not think that garçon/garcon is an ideal example, as it is seldom used as an English word (i.e. it is generally only used only to refer to a French individual). A better loan-word with a cedilla is provided in the quotation in the answer by @user3293056 — the word façade/facade, which I would consider a word used in normal educated English speech, ...


11

As an Englishman, I always use rôle, despite Microsoft's disapproval! I think there may be something of a US/UK difference on this one. The OED lists both spellings without distinction. The evolution of language is somewhat quirky. One never sees the word "hotel" written with a circumflex in English, as it is in French; but some people still insist on ...


11

I, an ignorant, lazy, hubristic, and (most-importantly) impatient American, need to add this preface, so I will have enough letters for this to be counted as an answer. One word: Keyboard Please, before you take offense at my use of adjectives, read the second-to-last paragraph before the note about dıacrıtıcs ın English. Now that I've made this answer ...


11

The diacritic on "ē" (the horizontal line called a "macron") does not represent Old English spelling. It is part of a modern standardized system for writing Old English words. It's useful to have such a system because Old English encompasses a number of slightly distinct writing traditions; and even within a particular tradition Old English spelling was not ...


10

They weren’t used even in Latin. They are used in books for those studying Latin to help them identify, for example, the ablative ending in the singular of the first declension, and they can also be helpful in scanning Latin verse. They serve no purpose when Latin words are used in English (and Latin words in English are mostly best avoided anyway).


10

There's also the curious case of foreign words that normally wouldn't get diacriticals, but sometimes do in order to distinguish them from their English look-alikes. For example, the Japanese word sake, sometimes spelled saké.


9

Your premise is wrong. Homographs that are not homophones exist in a great many languages, and in a great variety of writing systems. Germanic, Slavic, Sinitic; Latin, Cyrillic, Hanzi; you name it. To distinguish lead from lead, 易 from 易, замок from замок, Heroin from Heroin you have to rely on context. Some languages might try to help you out by using ...


8

The decision will in the end rest with your publisher, so I suggest you address the question to your editors—that’s what they’re paid for, and they will probably appreciate your calling their attention to the problem. In fact, the standard authority in my own field, MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, although it does not ...


7

The answer is obvious: Modern Standard English does not have diacritics. Why would you expect English copy to include non-English characters? If someone wants to write my English name in a non-English language I expect the writer to do just that, and I don't complain if my name looks different when written in that language.


6

There is definitely a difference in the meaning of dogged (verb past tense, one syllable) and doggèd (adjective, two syllables), even though they're both generally spelled without the accent. Shakespeare used both forms, and seems to have pronounced dogged with one syllable, and doggèd with two. Whose reputation will be dogg'd with curses; —...


6

The uses of diacritic marks in modern English are quite limited, and diacritic marks can always be omitted without being incorrect. This applies equally to A and any other letter. Recent foreign borrowings: e.g. rôle, coup d'état, façade, etc. but role, coup d'etat, and facade are also all correct. Stage and poetry prosody: e.g. learnèd indicating a ...


5

Broadly agree with @tchrist (lazy, impatient, ignorant). I would add as well, however, that English speakers are extremely comfortable with impenetrable and unfathomable pronunciation differences. Memorising an enormous variety of irregular pronunciation is part of what we are used to doing. As such, we don't expect to be given guidance on pronunciation ...


5

I think it is an attempt to appropriate the word (into English), and I believe it is quite common (in the sense that this is what language users do and will do). For example, the name of the German town of Meißen was -- as far as I'm aware -- always spelled 'Meissen' outside Germany. This is the same phenomenon. One might take the view that a word is more ...


5

In §11.94, Diacritics—specialized versus general contexts, the Chicago Manual of Style advises (emphasis mine): Nearly all systems of transliteration require diacritics—including macrons, underdots, and overdots, to name just a few. Except in linguistic studies or other highly specialized works, a system using as few diacritics as are needed to aid ...


5

I am from Viet Nam. In my school, when we learn English, in our books and my teacher teach us that: 1) Đà Nẵng -> Da Nang, Việt Nam -> Viet Nam 2) Hai Bà Trưng -> Hai Ba Trung 3) Bình Trị Thiên (include: Quảng Bình, Quảng Trị, Thừa Thiên - before 1976) -> Binh Tri Thien. 4) Lý Minh Nhật -> Ly Minh Nhat 5) Hồ Chí Minh -> Ho Chi Minh (but we always speak/write ...


5

You can certainly assume that English speakers will omit the tone-denoting diacritics in the Vietnamese versions of the names of people and places — partly because they don't understand what they signify, and partly because they would have no idea how to reproduce them even if they wanted to — and that most of them will be confused about the different ...


5

Diacritics: Accents and Other Markings These are properly known in English as diacritics, or sometimes as diacritical markings. They indicate various things, but stress is only one possibility. They also change the pronunciation of letters in other ways. The OED says of diacritic: diacritic /daɪəˈkrɪtɪk/, a. and sb. Etymology: ad. Gr. διακριτικός, ...


5

Hopkins was an advocate of sprung rhythm, and many of his poems are written in it. (Others are written in conventional poetic meters.) In Hopkins' sprung rhythm, every line has the same number of stressed syllables, but the feet are irregular. Hopkins put accent marks on syllables when he didn't think the stresses were obvious. For example, in Pied Beauty, ...


5

First, for some historical context - accent grave (è) comes from Ancient Greek, and was part of a system developed for marking intonation. When the language moved to a stress-based system, the diacritics were adapted to that use: "Ancient Greek had three accentual signs: (1) the acute (indicating a rising tone . . . , (2) the circumflex . . . , and (3) ...


4

Just an opinion (can't make comments yet) but I doubt that diaeresis will become more common in future versions of English because there is no easy means to type them on a standard keyboard. By 'easy' I mean a single key or a Shift+key, Ctrl+key or Alt+key combination. It is easier for people to learn that 'bioracle' is pronounced 'bi-oracle' than it is to ...


4

One of your examples was from the BBC, so I attempted to find any mention of diacritics in the BBC Style Guide, but I could not find anything. I did find an incredible page on Wikipedia that is not an article, but is rather a User Page, and it has an unbelievably detailed explanation of diacritical marks, including recommended usages from most major style ...


4

As mentioned in comments, since the diacritical markings (and crossed-letter letters) don't (generally and currently) have an analog in English language, the markings will be ignored for the common English speaker who will make a best guess at what the characters resemble from A-Z and what they sound like from their closest A-Z analog. To an English ...


4

When you use Microsoft Word's alphabetize tool, it treats the "ö" as if it were just a regular "o." This seems to match the treatment of other accented letters not typically used in English. For example, piñata retains its "ñ" because it is taken directly from Spanish, but when alphabetized in English, the "ñ" is treated as a regular "n."


4

I'm a native speaker. There's no universal application for the writing rules in Vietnamese, as the written way has changed time to time. To answer your questions, at least based on my and many others' perspectives: As without diacritics, Vietnam, Hanoi, Danang, Nhatrang, Buonmethuot, Dalat, Daklak, etc. are totally fine, even preferred. The places' names ...


4

In a note appended to the question, the OP says 'I am only talking about names using the Latin alphabet, I am not talking about transliterated names'. This implies that the OP regards it as unproblematic that Japanese, Russian, Israeli, or Greek names appear in English contexts in a form that is different, sometimes vastly different, from the original. What ...


4

We do in a way; it's just that our letters with bits added above and below them have come to be considered separate letters. The same happened in Swedish, where "ä", "ö" and "å" are considered separate letters of the alphabet rather than letters with accents or diacritics. Similarly Danish with "æ", "ø" and "å". In English (and other languages), "j" was ...


3

If you've ever read The New Yorker you'll find that they are big on this sort of thing, especially with things like: coöperative I think most people find this sort of pretentious though


3

With regard to your question number 4, here (for what it's worth) is the style advice of The Oxford Guide to Style (2003): Vietnamese Vietnamese names should not be transposed: although the family name is first, the correct reference is to a person's second given name: Nguyen Vo Giap becomes General Giap. (This does not apply to Ho Chi Minh, which was a ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible