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Accent Marks (Diacritics) 

Accent Marks (Diacritics)

Chapter:
Non-English Words, Phrases, and Accent Marks
Author(s):

Brenda Gregoline

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Subscriber: null; date: 28 August 2016

Accent Marks (Diacritics)

An accent mark (diacritic), when added to a letter, indicates a phonetic value different from that of the unmarked letter. English words once spelled with accent marks (eg, cooperate, preeminent) now are written and printed without them. Consult the most recent edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary to resolve questions about whether a word should retain its accent. In general, English words in common usage should be spelled without diacritical marks.

Accent marks should always be retained in the following instances:

  • Proper names

    Dr Bönneman is a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences.

  • When it is desirable to show the correct spelling in the original language

    Köln (Cologne)

  • In quotations

    “Más vale pájaro en mano que cientos volando” (“a bird in the hand is worth more than a hundred flying birds”) is a Spanish proverb similar to the English-language “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

  • In terms in which accent marks are retained in current use (consult dictionaries)

    café au lait spots

    garçon

    Möbius strip

    voilà

  • To show pronunciation and syllabic emphasis

    centime (sän-tēm)

    gluteus (glutéus)

    Accent marks should be clearly indicated on manuscript copy.

    Accent Mark

    Example of Usage

    acute

    Ménétrier

    breve

    Ğabdulla Tuqay

    cedilla

    Behçet

    circumflex

    Le Nôtre

    dot

    marlė

    grave

    Bibliothèque

    macron

    gignōskein

    ring

    Ångstrom

    slash

    København

    tilde

    mañana

    umlaut

    Henoch-Schönlein purpura

    wedge

    Vrapče

Some languages are not supported by commonly used word-processing programs and Web browsers. Page proofs including words in such languages should be reviewed thoroughly by a person familiar with the language, and some letters or entire words and phrases may need to be rendered online using images rather than HTML.

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