Rick Steves refers to them as “little doo-hickeys over some letters that affect pronunciation.” I call them diacritical marks, a sure sign that you are dealing with a foreign language. Sometimes you find them in English in words such as rôle, coöperate, or façade.Then you might think, “Gosh but this is old-fashioned!”
More than just doohickeys, diacritical marks are extensions of other countries’ alphabets. A couple weeks ago, I wrote a posting entitled “Dysinventions”, mostly of my dislike of touchscreen keyboards. In the post, I wrote:
I feel bad enough that there are some Eastern European diacritical marks I can’t use, such as an anacrusis or the Hungarian double-acute-accent over the “o” and “u” to indicate an extended vowel sound. In time, I will figure this out. But not on one of those touchscreen keyboards. I can imagine it would be gruelling just to type an average paragraph shifting between upper and lower case letters and numbers, let alone diacritical marks.
If I can’t make it look as if it were typeset, I would just as soon forget the whole thing. It just wouldn’t be me.
Well, I finally did figure it out. There is a great Internet resource called Typeit.Org which enables me to quote directly from twenty-six different character sets, including: Currencies, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Esperanto, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Icelandic, thye International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) for English, the full IPA, Italian, Maori, Math, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Symbols, Swedish, Turkish, and finally Welsh.
Now there is nothing I cannot type with my keyboard in any of the above configurations. Just so that I can control the type font, there is one additional step: I paste the text into Microsoft’s Notebook, which strips out Typeit’s default font information, and then copy and paste the result into WordPress.
At long last, I feel confident that I can print in Hungarian without misspelling such passages as:
Bár külön beállítási opció nincsen rá, egy egyszerű szintaxis használatával lehetséges a régi szótárból ismert teljes egyezésre, bármilyen egyezésre, vagy akár szó végére is keresni.
Note in particular that word egyszerű with its doubly accented “u”.
Please don’t worry that I’ll go crazy with this new tool. After all, nem akarom, hogy ellenátkok. (“I don’t want to befuddle you.”)