Spurious "Quotes" and Apostrophe's

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Sep 19 15:52:28 UTC 1999

>When I was in elementary school, we were taught to use a diaeresis over the
>e in a word such as ree"valuation or over the o in coo"peration; several
>years later my 6th grade teacher responded to a question about umlauts, "The
>correct word in English is "diaeresis."
I always assumed (well, not ALways, but from some point ater the 6th grade)
that a diaeresis is distinct from an umlaut; the former indicates the
vowels of e.g. coöperation are pronounced distinctly, the latter that a
vowel in a language like German or Turkish is fronted.  The two are
"spelled" the same, but that just makes the symbols homographs, but not
instances of the same symbol, any more than the two verbs that can occur as
homonyms in e.g. "She can't bear children" are the same lexical item.  Of
course, an argument can be constructed in the opposite direction, since
after all we call an acute accent an acute accent even if it indicates
vowel quality in one language and quantity/stress in another.


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