On Sunday 18 September 2016 17:51, Terry Reedy wrote:

> On 9/18/2016 2:45 AM, Steven D'Aprano wrote:
>> It doesn't matter whether you call them "accent" like most people do, or
>> "diacritics" as linguists do.
> I am a native born American and I have never before heard or seen
> non-accent diacritic marks called 'accents'.  Accents indicate stress.
> Other diacritics indicate other pronunciation changes.  It is
> counterproductive to confuse the two groups.  Spanish, for instance, has
> vowel accents that change which syllable gets stressed.

Then you're better educated than most people I've met. Most folks I know call 
any of those "funny dots and squiggles" on letters "accents".

> A tilda is not
> an accent; rather, it softens the pronunciation of 'n' to 'ny', as in
> 'canyon'.

Hmmm. I'm not a Spanish speaker, but to me, 'canyon' is pronounced can-yen and 
the n is pronounced no differently from the n in 'can', 'man', 'men', 'pan', 
'panel', 'moon', 'nut', etc.

(P.S. it's tilde. Tilda is short for Matilda, as in Tilda Swinton the actor.)

But what do I know? My missus says I have a tin-ear, and I'm no linguist. But I 
can read Wikipedia:


and it makes it clear that diacritics including accents can have many different 
effects on pronunciation, including none at all.

E.g. French là ("there") versus la ("the") are both pronounced /la/. In English 
the diaereses found in naïve, Noël, Zoë, coöperate etc. is used to show that 
the marked vowel is pronounced separately from the preceding vowel (e.g. co-
operate rather than coop-erate), and accents used to indicate that a vowel 
which normally isn't pronounced at all should be, as in saké or Moist von 
Lipwig's wingèd hat[1].

Make of that what you will.

[1] A running gag from "Going Postal", one of the Discworld series.

git gets easier once you get the basic idea that branches are homeomorphic 
endofunctors mapping submanifolds of a Hilbert space.


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