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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    Using diacritics/graphemes for stylistic reasons?

    I'm not particularly well educated on this subject, so to anyone more knowledgeable - please feel free to correct my usage of any words I may have misunderstood!

    From what I understand, a diacritic is "mark" added to a letter to change its sound, for example an umlaut (e.g. ä ë ï ö ü, as in naïve or Chloë) or an accent (e.g accute accents - á é í ó ú, as in café or Esmée). A grapheme, I'm not sure how to explain, but I'm pretty sure the term does refer to letters like œ (as in fœtus or Œdipus) and æ (as in archæology or Cæsar). Again, as I say, correct me if I'm wrong - I'm going from my own basic knowledge and things I've picked up online.

    Using letters or characters in words they wouldn't fit in under normal rules isn't an entirely foreign concept (see: Ke$ha or BΔSTILLE for example), but I'd be interested to know what people think of this idea in names.

    For example, from what I know, in English æ is pronounced like "ee" (archæology, pædophilia, encyclopædia etc). I came across the name Maery quite sometime ago, which I imagine is pronounced "mair-ee" or even "may-ree", and it stuck with me, as has Maera ("mair-ah"/"may-rah"). However, something about the spellings Mæry and Mæra just seem cleaner to me and I have no idea why. Of course, that would really change the pronunciations to something like "meer-ee" and "meer-ah" respectively.

    Now, note that I would probably never use either in real life and if I did, I'd almost certainly go for the the non-grapheme spellings, but it has made me wonder what people think of the practice in general.

    As one example, I have seen the name Chloé, pronounced "chlo-ee" rather than the expected "chlo-ay" (or something thereabouts, not sure if the true pronunciation can really be conveyed through text!). Likewise, I'm pretty sure I've seen Phaedra spelled Phædra and pronounced "fay-drah" at least once (not certain on what the correct pronunciation is for this name, though).

    Do you think this is acceptable, within the rights of creative licence? Or do you think it is tacky and makes the parent seem uneducated? Have you ever come across this in real life, or heard of anyone doing it before?
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  2. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by genevie View Post
    As one example, I have seen the name Chloé, pronounced "chlo-ee" rather than the expected "chlo-ay" (or something thereabouts, not sure if the true pronunciation can really be conveyed through text!).
    Augh. This annoys me SO much. x_x

    There's nothing wrong with using an accent mark (if you're allowed to on forms etc) providing you're using the correct accent mark. It's just sheer stupidity not to what with internet access these days. If I saw 'Chloé' written like that then I'd pronounce it 'clo-ay' and refuse to do otherwise because that's what it says. Putting the wrong mark is indeed tacky and uneducated.

    The thing with 'ae' and 'ӕ' is interesting. I mean. If I saw 'ӕ' I'd instinctively know how it was meant to be pronounced but in general written English it's not used very often and most of the time I see 'encylcopaedia' spelt thusly (<this spell checker doesn't even recognise that spelling...)

    However, sometimes, 'ae' can make different sounds like... aerial, aeroplane, antennae etc So you can't take it for granted that all 'ae' is really 'ӕ' in disguise.

    I think the general rule is that if the word has a root in the Greek -ai- or Latin -ae- and contain an 'ae' which makes the 'ee' sound then you are allowed to write it as 'ӕ'. Here's a list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...ith_a_ligature
    Last edited by renrose; April 29th, 2013 at 06:48 AM.
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  3. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by renrose View Post
    Augh. This annoys me SO much. x_x

    There's nothing wrong with using an accent mark (if you're allowed to on forms etc) providing you're using the correct accent mark. It's just sheer stupidity not to what with internet access these days. If I saw 'Chloé' written like that then I'd pronounce it 'clo-ay' and refuse to do otherwise because that's what it says. Getting the wrong mark is indeed tacky and uneducated.
    Pretty much my thoughts exactly there. Despite the fact that Chloé may look far fancier than Chloë or Chloe, just as I like the look of the 'ӕ' in Maery/Maera, actually using them and then expecting people to follow an incorrect pronunciation just makes the user come across as uneducated and I'd be reluctant to pronounce the name their way.


    Interesting that such marks can't be used in the US! Is there a particular reason for that?

  4. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by genevie View Post
    Interesting that such marks can't be used in the US! Is there a particular reason for that?
    I don't know. Does anyone know why we can't? As a Spanish speaker, it's really annoying personally, particularly for last names. For example, Nunez in Spanish would be pronounced very differently than Núñez, but we can't use the ñ or the ú.
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  5. #9
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    Apr 2012
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    I see you're in London, but here in the US, we cannot use any marks on official forms. Curious to see if you can across the pond or any where else?
    My darling little Bean is a G I R L!
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