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squirrelfreak's avatar

Have you ever wished English used diacritical marks?

Asked by squirrelfreak (113points) December 1st, 2011

Would you prefer English to use diacritical marks (for example ö, é, ē, etc.) for ease of pronunciation and for distinguishing differences in homonyms like “read” and “read” to name a couple? I’d also be interested to read any other thoughts or opinions you have about the spelling of English words.

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32 Answers

whitetigress's avatar

That would be cool. I love English and I understood the rules perfectly. But not everyone is as motivated with words and diacritical marks are just tiny directions anyhow, I don’t see what’s wrong with using them. ”/

vine's avatar


Sometimes I come across coördinate and can’t help rolling my eyes.

DominicX's avatar

wi ʃʊd ʤʌst spɛl ɛvriθɪŋ ɪn aj pi ej fɔrmæt

lillycoyote's avatar

No, but I have always wished the English had better food.

Sunny2's avatar

If it would help, but I think English, would still be very difficult. What would you do with all the ough words?

Welcome to Fluther!

2davidc8's avatar

If you mean adding all those extra marks to the existing spelling, then no. English spelling is difficult enough without all those extras. The main difficulty for adults learning English is not the lack of diacritical marks, it’s the fact that the spelling is not phonetic. One sound could be spelled many different ways, and the same group of letters, as @Sunny2 points out, could be pronounced in different ways. If English spelling were overhauled completely and made phonetic, then diacritical marks would be helpful in distinguishing between homonyms (see vs. sea, their vs. there, its vs. it’s, etc.)

zensky's avatar

Actually, read and read (red) aren’t homonyms. In linguistics, a homonym is, in the strict sense, one of a group of words that share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings. Thus homonyms are simultaneously homographs (words that share the same spelling, irrespective of their pronunciation) and homophones (words that share the same pronunciation, irrespective of their spelling.

Heteronyms are a type of homograph that are also spelled the same and have different meanings, but sound different.

To answer your question – yes, it would be simpler.

Boogabooga1's avatar

Americans have bastardised the beautiful bastard language too much. Diacritical marks are and never were necessary in aide of communication until the Americans decided to invent their own version of the English dictionary.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
KoleraHeliko's avatar

@DominicX I wouldn’t mind using a few IPA symbols, actually. Especially for vowels. There aren’t too many of those in English.

A lot could be done to fix English spelling. Reading a book which talks about that quite a lot, actually. If we were to have phonetic spelling, or at least something which was more phonetic than it is now, we’d need a new written version of English for just about every accent on the planet.

JLeslie's avatar

Absolutely not.

Nullo's avatar

We used to use umlauts in some cases when I was in Grade 1–2.
I don’t much like them.

flutherother's avatar

No, I don’t like them and they clutter up the page.

mowens's avatar

They confuse me. Words I normally would have no problem saying correctly would be second guessed.

gailcalled's avatar

How about the diphthongs left over from the Greek? (How about “phth” strung together and pronounced as a loud raspberry accompanied by spit?)


blueiiznh's avatar

Never wished it.
While it might help with all the oddities/exceptions in the English language, I think at this point it might be a pointless switch/addition.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

I always wondered why English could not be more phonetic like Japanese or Spanish. I think some diacritical marks would make some words easier to learn and understand for none-English speaking people.

gailcalled's avatar

If you’re a none-English speaker, do let us know.

zensky's avatar

He most certainly is.

gailcalled's avatar

My word-of-the-day: Nonesuch (also nonsuch )


A person or thing that is regarded as perfect or excellent.

zensky's avatar

I hope this won’t cause a bobbery.

gailcalled's avatar

@zensky: Is that the non-word of the day?

zensky's avatar

Nope, it’s a word; a brawl or fight.

wundayatta's avatar

Our typing software should randomly apply diacritical marks above vowels and it should impossible to change those marks. Yep. We really need them!

zenvelo's avatar

@zensky must subscribe the same Word of the Day I do.

The IPA is too confusing for easy scanning. But I would think most vowels in English would end up as a schwa.

HungryGuy's avatar

No. It would just make typing correctly more of a pain.

2davidc8's avatar

@HungryGuy You have a good point there!

2davidc8's avatar

@HungryGuy Can you imagine trying to type those on an iPhone or tablet computer?

gailcalled's avatar

Courtesy of @srmorgan: Haemorrhage (another diphthong).

squirrelfreak's avatar

@HungryGuy Not necessarily. On a Swedish keyboard, for example, there are separate keys for ä, ö, and å.

HungryGuy's avatar

@squirrelfreak – Oh? I didn’t know that. I just imagined having to use a complex alt/shift sequence every time I type a vowel. Ugh!

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