Archive | April, 2012

The diaeresis

30 Apr

Diaeresis

The diaeresis, or a black bear with pink eye looking in your window at night.

Remember that time I had a blog? Ah, good times. Well, get ready, because BLAM – here’s my return to that very same blog!

And this post is about the diaeresis – AKA the thing that looks like this: ¨. In English, it’s most commonly seen in the word naïve (when properly written), and in names, such as Brontë, as in the Brontë sisters. It has a Greek background and means “to divide”.

Basically, the diaeresis is used to indicate that the adjoining letters should be pronounced as two separate sounds. Naïve is the best example, as it shows how the two vowels are used as two syllables.

Fun fact 1: Diaeresis is pronounced “die heiresses”.

Fun fact 2: The New Yorker still uses the diaeresis on the words coöperate and reënter. The alternatives are, of course, to go without (cooperate, reelect) or to hyphenate (co-operate, re-elect), but decades ago they chose the diaeresis, and goddamn it, they’re sticking with it.

Fun fact 3: It’s really hard to write naïve without Microsoft Word changing it to naive. You can make it by pressing the option key + U on a Mac. I’m not sure about PCs though. Frankly, just buy a Mac.