http://chronicle.com/img/photos/biz/icons/lingua-franca-nameplate.pngBy Lucy Ferriss. They’re going the way of the Lord God bird. Those umlauts, tildes, cedillas, accents aigus and graves and very occasionally the circumflex—all those funny little decorations that we used to have to retype or ink in, that we now access by way of the Option key, that get their own keys on those maddening foreign keyboards—they’re on their way out. Are you mourning yet?
The
New Yorker is apparently a holdout, at least when it comes to the diaeresis—those two dots over a second syllable that are often confused with the German umlaut. As Mary Norris posted at the magazine’s Culture Desk last year, the decision was made when The New Yorker was just getting under way, when someone debating among cooperate, co-operate, and coöperate “decided that the first misread and the second was ridiculous, and adopted the diaeresis as the most elegant solution with the broadest application.” These days, “The diaeresis is the single thing that readers of the letter-writing variety complain about most.” In 1978,  The New Yorker’s style editor indicated that he would soon send out a memo changing the style rule for words like reëlect and zoölogical, but he died soon thereafter, and no one has dared upset the applecart since. Read more...