The accent’s on getting it right

accents on a keyboardReally enjoyed the Reader’s Editor column in Monday’s Guardian about accents on foreign words.

As a linguist, writer and sub, this ticks so many boxes – the difficulty, but the importance of making sure that the correct accents are placed on foreign words.

The shout that often comes up, when writers, subs etc miss the odd grave, tilde or umlaut, is, ‘oh, it doesn’t really matter’.

But clearly it does. Missing accents is just plain ignorance. You may roll your eyes at the grave accent in Arsène Wenger, but if you were called Paul Smith and someone spelled your name Paul Smoth, you’d be mightily peeved, wouldn’t you?

Sweeping generalisation, obviously, but it all goes back to the English notion that everyone should speak their language, rather than learn a new one.

If only tilde, umlaut, cedilla and diaresis were everyday words, we’d all be a little bit better informed!

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