Chicago Style Workout 44: Accents and Other Diacritical Marks

Accentuate the Positive

It may not be possible to go to a café or a boîte right now for pie à la mode, but there is an alternative. You can take this month’s quiz and test your knowledge of accents and other diacritical marks.

You know them when you see them, but do you know what they’re called?

Accents and other diacritical marks are common in French, Spanish, German, Italian, and many other languages. (A diacritic is a mark placed on or near a letter; some of these are referred to as accents, but many are not.) You’ll also see them occasionally in certain words that have been imported into English from another language—usually French, as in café and boîte and à la mode.

You can learn about diacritical marks, including their names and the languages they’re used with, in chapter 11 of CMOS 17. This quiz focuses on some of the more common marks and what they’re called.

Subscribers to The Chicago Manual of Style Online may click through to the linked sections of the Manual (cited in the answers). (For a 30-day free trial of CMOS Online, click here.)

Note: Style guides and dictionaries sometimes disagree. This quiz is designed to test your knowledge of The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition.

Chicago Style Workout 44: Accents

1. The mark over the e in French imports like “café” and “appliqué” is called
2. The mark over the i in “boîte,” another French import, is called
3. You already know that pie can be served “à la mode,” but do you know what that mark over the a is called?
4. The word “canyon” is from the Spanish “cañón.” The answer to the first question will reveal the name of the mark over the o. But what is the mark over the n called?
5. Austrian American composer Arnold Schoenberg’s surname can also be spelled Schönberg, which reflects its German-language origins. What are those little dots called?
6. In English we refer to the third-largest Polish city as Lodz, but in Polish it’s Łódź. The answer to the first question alludes to the marks over the o and the z; but what is that thing on the L?
7. In English we call it an angstrom, but the tiny unit of measurement gets its name from Swedish physicist Anders Jonas Ångström. The mark that looks like snake eyes was covered in question 5, but what’s that open circle over the A?
8. The Czech Republic can be referred to by a shorter form of its name, Czechia or, in Czech, Česko. What’s that mark over the C called?
9. Though it’s often rendered as “naive,” the spelling “naïve”—which is how the word appears in French—is also common. What are those dots called in the second version?
10. The mark over the o in the Japanese word “shōgun” is usually dropped in English. But what is it called?


Top image: “Decorative Lettering,” by Malachi Ray Rempen. Itchy Feet © 2016. Used with permission.

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2 thoughts on “Chicago Style Workout 44: Accents and Other Diacritical Marks

  1. I’m sure you’ve caught this by now, but under the explanation for #9 “coöoperation” is misspelled. 🙂

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