Talk:English terms with diacritical marks

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English words?[edit]

It's odd how few of these are actually English words. RickK 23:56, Nov 6, 2004 (UTC)

It would be more odd if they were:) Natural English words don't have diacritics (apart from the very occasional one where diaeresis is used. jguk 00:23, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)

There is no such thing as a Natural English word - the entire language is derived

Except that the following words are NOT English words:

déshabillé - Führer - háček - mañana - naïf - né - recherché - resumée - retroussé - roué - señorita (but usually senorita) - soupçon -

And those I didn't list here, at least in the idiom of English that I'm familiar with, usually don't contain diacritics. RickK 00:38, Nov 7, 2004 (UTC)

Both mañana (tomorrow) and señorita (young woman) are words commonly used here in Southern California. Both words make no sense if they are spelled without the diacritical (mañana does not rhyme with banana!). For another word with the "ñ" letter, I would add the weather phenomenom El Niño to the list.
Yeah, but love, cove, and and move rhyme.Cameron Nedland 20:16, 30 April 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I will agree that né is very rare, but the feminine equivalent, née, is used in English and both are listed in the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. [1] [2]
For words that are used in English, although probably more common without the diacriticals, I would include déshabillé, Führer [3], naïf [4], roué [5], and soupçon [6]. Still, when checking Merriam-Webster, all but déshabillé are listed with the diacritical version as the main, or the only entry. gK 01:53, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Article title?[edit]

I think that the problem is that this list has a horrible title. As far as I know, there are no "native" English words with a diacritical. This is a list of loan words used in the English language that have diacriticals. Most of them are still usually written with the diacriticals, but as the loan words become "naturalized", they may loose the diacritical (as when à propos became apropos). Unfortunately I can't think of a good title for the article that isn't exceedingly wordy. It would be tempting to use "List of English loan words with diacriticals", except that could mean either loan words adopted by the English language, or English words adopted into another language (see Gairaigo for example). Unless someone can come up with a better title, I propose that it should be changed to "List of loan words in English with diacriticals". gK 05:55, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)

What's about the Filé powder?
What's about the Encyclopædia and Æsc?
Aren't they Ænglisc/ænglisc?
Are they changing due to computers? (talk) 15:22, 28 October 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

More words?[edit]

These are words I wasn't sure about, so I am putting them on the Talk page to see if there is any concensus:

Æolian harp, amóre, chiné, frälein, ma chère

I also didn't add any of the musical terms (usually derived from Italian or French) that are often written with accents, such as (only a very limited list):

a capélla, allégro, arpéggio, básso, etc.

gK 06:22, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)

well Fraulein got taken out, but it's just as much an English word as Fuhrer or senorita Kappa 07:48, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Even if Fraulein were an English word, most English speakers don't include the umlaut when pronouncing it or spelling it. RickK 07:50, Nov 7, 2004 (UTC)
The Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary list the umlaut spelling as the only spelling choice [7], and a quick google check shows about 12,000 with the umlaut (for English-only pages) and 47,400 without the umlaut. The fräulein spelling is being used 20% of the time. I was actually surprised it was that high because so many people don't know how to enter either the Extended ASCII or Unicode characters. If I had been able to sample the usage in books and magazines, the percentage would have been much higher. My vote is for inclusion in the list. gK 09:26, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Most of the musical words listed above that derive from Italian are not supposed to have an accent mark (even in the original Italian). Do you have a source for these spellings? Nelson Ricardo 03:12, Nov 30, 2004 (UTC)
Unfortunately the list of musical terms was from a list I started compiling several years ago when I wasn't being careful about keeping track of my sources. I do remember that the source was either a music reference book or an opera reference book. A quick search on the internet does show, for example, the accented allégro as a ballet term and on French websites (see [8] and [9]), although it is a fairly rare usage. [[User:GK|gK ¿?]] 06:21, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Frenchified Italian words probably should not be on the list (I'm glad to see they're in fact not in the article).  :-) Nelson Ricardo 11:50, Nov 30, 2004 (UTC)
The whole of the "French" language is Frankified italian (latin)! —Preceding unsigned comment added by Nickshanks (talkcontribs) 16:54, 7 March 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A Second List?[edit]

It might also be interesting to list some of the loan words that have lost their diacriticals. I've already mentioned à propos, which list both an accent and a space. There is also one of my favorite words, both for its real meaning and as a metaphor, smörgåsbord. Angstom is from Anders J. Ångström and roentgen is from Wilhelm Röntgen. Also: boutonnière clientèle, gK 06:40, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)

The word airplane dates from 1907,[1] at which time the prefix aero- was trisyllabic, often written aëro-. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:00, 28 October 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  1. ^ Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, airplane.

I thought this was a list of words, not phrases[edit]

A lot of foreign phrases with diacritics have been added to the article. These should be removed. Do we have a separate list of phrases somewhere? jguk 16:31, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Cut from Naming conventions (standard letters with diacritics)[edit]

Cut from Wikipedia:Naming conventions (standard letters with diacritics) --Philip Baird Shearer 20:21, 26 June 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

These are some examples of English words which use diacritics, taken from Webster's 3rd International 1981 printed edition:

Note that in the Fin de siècle article someone remarks that "The expression often occurs in English prose without the grave accent" - which is different from what Webster's would have.

Some of the above may not be in this article. --Philip Baird Shearer 20:21, 26 June 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The original editor to contribue the above was User:Elonka Revision as of 06:03, 26 June 2006 --Philip Baird Shearer 20:26, 26 June 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

proposed move to Wiktionary[edit]

Beland, i removed the "move to Wiktionary" tag without first asking you for your reasoning because i saw on your user page that you're too busy now to deal with requests quickly. I also wanted your suggestion to be discussed here before somebody overzealous gets rid of this article before a discussion has taken place. Putting such a peremptory tag without discussion is not a good idea. Actually, it's of course not your fault that the template is badly worded; like similar tags, it should ask users to discuss the suggested idea of moving instead of saying that it has been more or less decided that this is a dictionary entry ("appears/is", "be more than a dictionary entry" instead of "may be" etc.) and that the move will happen if the article is not made into more than a dictionary entry.

More specifically, the article has almost nothing to do with a dictionary entry and has all the characteristics of an encyclopedia entry. First of all, lists do not belong in dictionaries except for very rare exceptions (and this may be one), and then they are just that, a list, with an explanation that is much shorter than the description provided here. This article, on the contrary, in addition describes what this spelling phenomenon is and why it is used and provides many other pieces of information that would and should not be provided in a dictionary at all. (A dictionary entry would be very short and expect users to look up any technical terms it uses.) As it stands, the article is not a bad rough draft.

If this list and its explanatory and descriptive article were removed, we'd have to remove most other lists from Wikipedia too, including for example List_of_Internet_slang_phrases. Removing specifically that list would severely reduce Wikipedia's value and authority in the online community that uses and feeds it, and although there were and are some who still call for its deletion, the discussion clearly showed why that list is important and belongs in WP. Many if not most of the keep arguments in that discussion apply here too. If you in addition consider that that list also has definitions of the words, whereas this list doesn't, you can see why this article is even less of a dictionary entry. --Espoo 04:46, 15 October 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Agreed the article should be moved - it has no place in an encyclopedia unless the encyclopedia is dedicated to langauge, which this one is not

Disagree with move. The article has a place in the encyclopedia, which is potentially about everything, including language (and languages). We also need an article about loan words generally written without diacritics, like "elite", and those sometimes written with our without, like "facade" or "coupe" (the car). — Preceding unsigned comment added by METRANGOLO1 (talkcontribs) 08:15, 30 July 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Paragraph to rewrite[edit]

I have commented out the following:

In some cases, the diacritic is not borrowed from any foreign language but is purely of English origin. This includes the “oö” in the now somewhat rare variant spellings of words such as “coöperation” (compare the original French coopération). A famous of example of this diaeresis, of course, is the MIT Harvard book coöp/coop. One obvious example of diaeresis use in literature is in the name Brontë, which is seen both with and without the diacritic to this day.

As the name suggests, the use of the diaeresis mark to represent a phonetic diaeresis is not an invention of English. It is common in languages throughout Western Europe and dates back to medieval Greek. Furthermore, it is arguable whether the source of learned words such as "cooperation" is French, or Latin. FilipeS 17:35, 2 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This is: the diaeresis is used in English coöperation when it is not used in french coopération, because there is no oo diphthong in French making it yet clear without trema that they are pronounced as two separate o. At opposite, in English, the foot is so popular that everybody knows the pronunciation of oo in English. this is why the trema in coöperation is needed in english language and not in French to mark the separate pronunciation. (talk) 15:18, 28 October 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Trend towards dropping diacritics[edit]

This paragraph is blatantly biased. It is very obvious that the author does not agree with the trend towards removing diacritics in English. Either it should be re-written or removed.-- 21:25, 3 July 2007(UTC)

  • Agreed. I made some edits, feel free to refine.--Areia 15:06, 5 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

More accurately the author clearly does not agree with the trend of removing diacritics by AMERICAN's. So not only is the author showing opinion about the subject he/she is also showing baised against the people of the United States.
There is currently a very strong trend to rewrite the Wiki with anti-American articles which often completely distort the facts simply so they do not match with "American" views. I believe this has mostly came about because of the very anti-American views so common in the UK today. This is also compounded by the fact that UK Uni professors are now encouraging UK students to change and contribute to Wiki and many are telling the students to make it more "British". Sadly, this normally means revisionist history and complete distortion of the facts to make Britian appear more important.
As in -
"The trend to drop diacritics is much stronger in U.S. English than in British English."
That statement is completely unfounded or supported and in fact is almost certainly wrong. It is far more likely that the British are more likely to remove the diacritics
Also the statement -
"perhaps in connection with something blatant like a so-called split infinitive to show that the diacritic was left out on purpose"
Should be removed completely. A split infinitive is a accepted construct and has been for many years. Calling it "so-called" implies that use of the term is incorrect.
In fact there never was any rule in English about the split infinitive. It was a Victorian invention based on Latin. Martin Hogbin (talk) 07:44, 8 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]


On the topic of removing/dropping diacritics, it may be useful to mention the neologism "asciify" as in rendering a text string in ASCII characters (which happen to include the 26 letters of the English alphabet and some symbols, but no diacritics). Although properly a computer term (or derivative of a computer term) it is a convenient way of describing the practice.--A12n (talk) 23:23, 10 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Article title[edit]

Because of the perennial problem of whether all these words are actually "English", how about we rename the article to Use of diacritics in English? (talk) 21:34, 9 November 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

That seems extremely reasonable. Whether the dialect's army and/or navy has conquered any given word is rather arbitrary anyway. SDY (talk) 08:02, 10 November 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That is an excellent idea. It describes the situation exactly. Many foreign words that have been absorbed into the English language originally had diacritics. Some are dropped completely, others are kept in some circumstances. Who is to say which are English words and which are not. The article seems to be pushing a POV without citing any sources. Martin Hogbin (talk) 07:44, 8 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I challenge the claim that native English words originally contained diacritics.[edit]

I don't see any reliable references to this claim that "some" native English originated with diacritics. What I learned in grade school was that English did not have any. Its probably a loosing argument, but a "clean" example of a written native word created/originally used by a 1) native English speaker/writer, who 2) did not speak/write a foreign language would be decisive. In other words demonstration that the 26 English characters, together with their 50+ sounds,(along with punctuation was insufficient to write any English word. I'm not sure how you establish this. Modern English derives from Middle English derives from Old English but with a host of loan words added at each stage. Basically, what I'd like to see is a single instance of "spontaneous" creation of a word using a letter with a diacritical mark. Or rather a scholarly article describing same. My guess is that any such 'examples' were borrowed from other languages, either directly, or as a hybridization. My Shorter Oxford English dictionary spells naive as naive, not naïve. (talk) 17:41, 31 October 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I concur.
After speaking English for seventy-odd years, and reading it for most of them, I also don't know of any native English word that was first spelt with diacritics. My Concise Oxford English Dictionary (5th edition, 1964) spells "naïve" as "naïve, naive", allowing both alternatives. Yet in its entry for "diaeresis", it gives the usage example "aërate"; but its entry for "aerate" gives only that spelling! And its spelling uses diacritics only to effect "Pronunciation without respelling". Even our respected dictionaries may not help us settle the issue.
Like you, I learned at school to spell any English word using just 26 letters (in upper- and lower-case). But we were also taught to use two punctuation marks: apostrophe and hyphen. Even the obsolete ligatures that I found in my grandparents' books, such as æ and œ, were spelt as digraphs: ae and oe, e.g. in "onomatopoeia". How did we spell "cooperate" and its derivatives? We were taught to hyphenate them: "co-operate".
Modern English spelling derives, I was taught, from Geoffrey Chaucer's, with subsequent additions of many loan words, such as French "café" and "garage". Your hypothetical naïve English speaker would probably write them as "caffay" and "garage", by analogy with "Cathay" and "damage", wouldn't they? No diacritics necessary. (We needn't ask how Chaucer might have spelt them, since he was definitely multilingual.) English, particularly in its vowels, doesn't include all the sounds of the languages it has borrowed from; however, it usually adapts the foreign sounds by choosing the nearest English equivalent, thereby obviating any need for borrowing a diacritic. yoyo (talk) 07:54, 5 January 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree that English words usually aren't spelled with diacritics nowadays; however, you can't use modern sources (e.g. even your Concise Oxford English dictionary from 1964) to dispute historical claims, since we're talking about the early 1900s, possibly 1800s here. To that end, many sources (e.g. this one, which we also use in this article) state that this way of writing actually used to be quite common. Naïve (with the diacritic) is still used regularly in print, although this depends on the publisher's preference (compare The New Yorker, which goes all in on diaereses).
This dispute probably stems from a misunderstanding: The grave accent, but especially the diaeresis are not a holdover from some borrowing like you describe, but an actual pronunciation hint for native English words, if the pronunciation radically differs from what one might expect (see Grave accent § English). The diaeresis in particular is used to break up what would normally be digraphs (compare the words reëlection or reënter, which are certainly not borrowed), a praxis going all the way back to Ancient Greek—nowadays, a dash would be used for that purpose (re-election, re-enter). From what I've read, both ways used to be common, but in the 20th century, the dash became the more widely used variant (for comparison, in other languages like Dutch, the diaeresis prevailed), but the diacritical marks are nevertheless still used by some.
So, when the article states that "In some cases, the diacritic is not borrowed from any foreign language but is purely of English origin.", it means exactly that: That the diacritic didn't appear because the word was borrowed, but because somebody used the diacritic to avoid confusion and mispronunciation. Additionally, these diacritics are still used in poetry, as well as in some personal names (e.g. Zoë). TucanHolmes (talk) 12:07, 22 February 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Changèd" listed at Redirects for discussion[edit]


An editor has asked for a discussion to address the redirect Changèd. Please participate in the redirect discussion if you wish to do so. 1234qwer1234qwer4 (talk) 22:37, 16 March 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]


In § Types of diacritics, we read:

  • the háček (as in Karel Čapek), often also called the haček in English (adapted from "háček", the Czech name [note 1]), …

(my emphasis).

I believe the term "caron" would be better than the first occurrence of "háček" here. The quoted text would then read:

  • the caron (as in Karel Čapek), often also called the haček in English (adapted from "háček", the Czech name [note 1]), …

yoyo (talk) 03:54, 5 January 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]


For some earlier discussion, see the above section headed "I challenge the claim that native English words originally contained diacritics." Please continue the discussion in this section. yoyo (talk) 11:46, 6 January 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

NZ subsection - macrons[edit]

@ (See today's edits.) Macrons have been added to many English words of Maori origin in recent decades, especially in the last ten years or so. The reason for this is an increasing social willingness to be part of what is know as the Maori Renaissance. This is interlinked with legislative changes requiring the promotion of Maori culture and language. It is sometimes claimed that these words have always been Maori words, have never been assimilated into English, and have always been used as misspelled foreign language (Maori) words in English. That claim justifies the addition of macrons in English text: macrons are being added to a Maori word, that can use a macron, and not to an English word that cannot. (Minor exceptions apply that are not relevant here.) A failure to grasp what has actually been happening has led to considerable confusion, contradiction and unsubstantiated original research in numerous articles. An example might be helpful - the English language name of that big lake is Taupo; the Maori name for that big lake is Taupō. Therefore, the recent change of use is not the correction of a misspelled English word but the dropping of the English word in favour of the Maori word. I'm happy to discuss here, but I do not intend getting into a circular drawn out opinion based argument - been there done that. Most sources about this NZ situation are ambiguous or not too reliable. RSSs dealing with the wider principle are available. Roger 8 Roger (talk) 08:12, 4 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]