Oh, the tragedy of writing about the delicious pate they served at last night’s party. Astute readers will imagine a head on a platter, all for want of the proper accent mark.
- I gave the manager my re’sume’.
- Wow! Those jalapenos really wake up the salsa!
- Garcon! Garcon!
Accent marks, also known as diacritical marks, indicate the specific pronunciation of a letter. In garcon, for example, the c would be pronounced like k: Garkon! No wonder he doesn’t respond! Add a cedilla to that c and the sound changes: garçon. The server will respond to you now. You’d need a tilde over the n to spell and pronounce jalapeños correctly; and no matter how we might wish it to be true, apostrophes do not replace the two French accents. If you are typing in a country whose language uses these accent marks, you’ll find them on the keyboard.
MORE TO KNOW
Even if you’re not in a country where accent marks are common, you can still add them quite easily. If you’re on an Apple (Mac) laptop, or a cellphone (regardless of whether it is an iPhone or an Android), press and hold the key for which you need the accent. On a PC, unique four-digit codes, used after you press the ALT key, create various accents. Alternatively, you can use the “Insert” toolbar, and then select “Symbol.” Just don’t use an apostrophe.