A Conversation for Ask h2g2

Why isn't there a diaeresis on "heroin"?

Post 1


A diaeresis is a diacritical mark placed over a vowel to indicate that it should be sounded separately. Examples include naïve, Brontë, and the given names Chloë and Zoë.

Now: "heroin" and indeed "heroine" look as though they should be pronounced to rhyme with "purloin".

Why are they not spelled "heroïn"/"heroïne"?

smiley - popcorn

As a side note, today I learned that the correct term for the single dot over an i or j is "tittle". smiley - smiley

Why isn't there a diaeresis on "heroin"?

Post 2


Technically 'heroin' ™ is a trademark, created by Friedrich Bayer & Co to sell one of their products.


Why isn't there a diaeresis on "heroin"?

Post 3

The Left Reverend Doktor Baron Grim

Yeah, I was going to say the same thing.

Also, diaereses are often omitted in English spellings. Our language is notorious for confusing pronunciation. Many comedy sketches have been based on this aspect of our language.

Why isn't there a diaeresis on "heroin"?

Post 4


"diaereses are often omitted in English spellings"

What then are the criteria for applying one? Naive gets one, Bronte gets one - can you give examples of words (like heroine) that should have one but don't? And speculate why?

Why isn't there a diaeresis on "heroin"?

Post 5

The Left Reverend Doktor Baron Grim

Heh... while trying to find other examples (like cooperate, reelect, zoological) I found this New Yorker article on the subject.


It's mostly about how the New Yorker chooses to use them where others wouldn't. It notes,

>>Most of the English-speaking world finds the diaeresis inessential. Even Fowler, of Fowler’s “Modern English Usage,” says that the diaeresis “is in English an obsolescent symbol.”<<

I am not all claiming I have any special knowledge on the vagaries of the English language and grammar. Heck, I didn't even know how to properly pronounce "diaeresis" until I read this article. (I thought it was "DIE-uh-REE-sis". smiley - doh)

Why isn't there a diaeresis on "heroin"?

Post 6


Is it ironic that a sudden lack of heroin causes a veritable explosion of 'diaeresis'

(if Trainspotting is at all accurate and to be believed that is) smiley - winkeye

I very rarely see either Naive or Zoe spelt with one to be fair, but I thought the one in Zoe was an umlaut. So I've learned something today smiley - smiley

Why isn't there a diaeresis on "heroin"?

Post 7

paulh. the world is a circus, but why d I have to work without a net?

~ and ^ are the only marks that I see on my keyboard. No accent grave, no umlaut, no dangling thing to go under the "c" in "Francais." I appreciate that there must be combinations of keys that one can click to create various things, but we live in a world where efficiency experts have rather a lot of influence. For those of us who would like to proceed smoothly and quickly in our typing, it must seem worthwhile not to have to lose time and momentum by adding extra marks that millions of other computer users can do without, given the consensus on which we base much of what we do.

A retired college professor who used to come into the library where In worked was always sounding off about the "demotic" tendencies of our culture. "Dumbing down" might have conveyed the same sentiment, but let's remember that he got to be a professor by not taking the easy path smiley - laugh

If you've gotten where you are by constantly being one of the best in your field (unless t=your field is efficiency smiley - winkeye), you will not take any comfort from this aspect of our culture.

I would rather proceed smoothly along my writing path without stopping for what seem like inessential marks, but I'm willing to listen to other points of view. smiley - smiley

Why isn't there a diaeresis on "heroin"?

Post 8

Icy North

The entry on the constellation Boötes dropped the diaeresis from the title to aid searching:


But Wikipedia doesn’t appear to need to do that.

Why isn't there a diaeresis on "heroin"?

Post 9


From what I've seen of wikipedia science articles, you're much better off going elsewhere anyway.

See their article on the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle for an excellent example of how NOT to write science for the lay-reader.

Why isn't there a diaeresis on "heroin"?

Post 10


(cripes, it might actually have got WORSE since the last time I looked there).

If you have the capacity to understand and follow all that - then you don't really need to be looking it up now do you? smiley - facepalm

Why isn't there a diaeresis on "heroin"?

Post 11

paulh. the world is a circus, but why d I have to work without a net?

Addendum to my previous post, last line: The downside to smoothly and steadily writing something is that I might not scrutinize the finished product for typos and errors. smiley - blush

My typos are not usually of sufficient importance to bring the world to the brink of ruin, but I may have a reputation to protect here. smiley - hero

Or not. smiley - erm

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Why isn't there a diaeresis on "heroin"?

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