Another Correct Usage

rogersgeorge on January 26th, 2017

Good old New Yorker. They pretty much always get their language right, and they’re famous for it. Here’s a usage that I think is fading away, even though I like it. It appeals to the detail-lover in me. It’s the punctuation mark called, in English, the dieresis.

Often when two vowels occur together, we either pronounce only one of them (when two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking) such as the word “boat.” Sometimes they are combined to form a diphthong, such as height. We’re so used to it we often don’t hear it. I’ll help you hear it. The word “hi” is pronounced the same as the karate term, “hai!” Whatever happens, the vowels usually combine into one syllable.

But sometimes, especially with prefixes, you end up with two vowels together, but each in its own syllable, and that’s where the dieresis comes in. If you want the second vowel to be in its own syllable the correct thing to do is use a dieresis. So here’s our example:

The reëlection of Barack Obama was a boon for the prepping industry.

Lots of folks, who don’t know how to create a dieresis, use a hyphen, re-elect. That’s okay, I guess, but why not be high class and use a dieresis? I googled “ascii for dieresis” to save you looking them up:

vowels with diaresis
ä          alt + 132
ë          alt + 137
ï           alt + 139
ö          alt + 148
ü          alt + 129

Hold down the Alt key and type the numbers on the numeric keypad. Reïgnite your inner grammarian!

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