Umlaut/dia(e)resis and Cultural Correctness

Subject: Umlaut/dia(e)resis and Cultural Correctness
From: Jack Shaw <jsh -at- SOFTWARE-AG -dot- DE>
Date: Mon, 24 Jul 1995 15:59:36 +0200

The term "Umlaut" seems to be generally acceptable as a
generic reference to the diacritical mark known more correctly
as a diaeresis/diaresis (even "Chicago" spells it both
ways!). But that's the German-derived name for the thing
and therefore not accurate in a generic sense.

And culturally, someone in Stockholm, Istanbul or Madrid
might get a little piqued when you refer to "their" diacritical
mark as an umlaut. On the other hand, "diaresis" is the correct
term in all three places as well as in Germany--in English.

But then, what difference does it make if you say/write
"diaresis" and the whole world responds, "say, what?".

So I'd say, go with "umlaut" (acceptable in most English
dictionaries I've perused) for audiences of that language,
but to "i12-ize" it, maybe the more accurate "dia(e)resis"
would be best.

Now, how you enter that little devil from your keyboard is
a horse of a different color altogether... ;-)


J. Shaw

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