Knack of processing accents

Steve Tracey stracey at DIRCON.CO.UK
Fri Aug 9 00:29:20 CDT 1996

 Paul Dessart writes:

  >Most messages are written in English; when French and Italian are used,
  >or any language with letters marked with an accent; many 'servers'
  >translate them into cabalistic formula ( =E8, =E9, etc., or even more
  >complex). When words must be written in italics, they are bordered with
  >the <_> sign (for instance: _Homo sapiens_).
  >Personally, I use and suggest some other conventions/agreements. I
  >substitute the acute accent by an apostrophe, the grave accent by quote
  >mark, the circunflex accent by a majuscule, the cedilla by a virgule. And
  >to make the text more readable, I set 2 spaces between each word.
  >This is easy and quick to do on a normally written text if one uses a
  ><macro-command> of the word processing to realize all changes

Perhaps the only reason for using such a convention might be for accurate
citation of names or references.
If we are talking about general discussion which aims to be understood, I
suggest that French correspondents leave out the accents altogether.  As an
English-speaker I don't find French any more difficult to understand without
the accents (and it's a lot easier to write that way).  The conventions
suggested, on the other hand, make the text look quite unfamiliar.
Presumably a natural French speaker would be able to read accentless text
with no difficulty or ambiguity at all.
I'd guess the same might also apply to other European languages.

  >I exemplify my suggestion with its translation into French.
  >Ceci  n'est  pas  un  sujet taxonomique,  mais  cela pourrait  Etre  utile
  > (mEme  dans leur  courrier  prive'  )  a"  de  nombreux  <taxacomers>
  >lorsqu'ils  n'e'crivent  pas  en  anglais.

So do I...

Ceci n'est pas un sujet taxonomique, mais cela pourrait etre utile
(meme dans leur courrier prive) a de nombreux taxacomers lorsqu'ils
n'ecrivent pas en anglais. [etc.]

Steve Tracey
University of Greenwich, UK.

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