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Xmas and the Diaeresis

December 10th, 2011 No comments

The other night a mate is driving me home and we drive past a house. It was one of those houses where the totally individualistic owner had done the entirely original thing of covering their house in idiotic Christmas lights. Now Christmas is a fun time but those lights really annoy me. Besides the obvious waste of electricity and the waste of time, they simply show a high level of both decadence and banality in my not so humble opinion.

But even worse this buffoon committed a grammatical error. You see emblazoned on his house, in red and green glory, was NOEL. So the assumption is that this is Noel’s house because that word certainly isn’t the Christmas word Noël. Now the two dots over the e form a diaeresis. This looks the same as the umlaut but has a slightly different role. It tells you to say the vowel pair as separate sounds. We could write co-operate with a diaeresis as follows: coöperate; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did, and the New Yorker magazine recently did too.  So back to the Xmas word. Noel is pronounced as no-ll, but Noël is pronounced as no-ell. The diaeresis also appears in Citroën, so we should say (when anglicised)  sit-ro-en, not sit-ron.

Yet another annoyance of Christmas: Diaeresis abuse!

Scrooge Copeland discussing the big issues here at the Soapbox!

Categories: Grammar Tags: , ,