Sunday, July 19, 2009

To diæresis, or not to diæresis, that is the question...

Specifically, the question is one of Chloë vs. Chloe

That little diacritical mark on the e--the one that looks like a German umlaut--is called a diæresis. It comes from the Greek diairesis "division," and it indicates a place where a vowel is spoken when it otherwise might not be. You might have seen it before, as you've probably read something by one or another of the Brontë sisters, and even in America naïve is usually printed with the diæresis. But other uses have disappeared in America--preëminent now gets a hyphen instead, and coöperate is written without any way to show confuzzled children that it's not pronounced like a misspelled version of what a barrel-maker does.

So... we're trying to decide whether to use the diæresis in Chloë or to just leave it as Chloe. Both are generally accepted spellings. What do you think?


Tom Pellitieri said...

Personally, I favor the mark, since it confirms that no dipthong is in place.

But, as you know, it's not straightfoward to type, and it will probably drive every teacher, school administrator and any government database entry clerk crazy trying to get it correct.

So... how evil do you want to be about this??

Dad said...

Does it use or not alter the legality of the signature?

If it does, then Tom's statement bears more scrutiny.

Eric said...

It shouldn't alter the legality of her signature, in the same way that me not placing the "II" behind my signature wouldn't change my signature's legality, or Jenny signing "Jenny Shafer" instead of "Jennifer Shafer."

Dad said...

That being the case I'd add it - she can always elect to drop it as needed.