Accents and other orthographic extravangaza


Accents are, in the eyes of native English speakers, an incomprehensible orthographic extravaganza. English orthography is like English food: simple and dull yet fit for its purpose, period.

In contrast to the easy English, the orthographic punctuation of European languages, full of funny characters like ü for German or ñ in Spanish seems too elaborate and, just like everything continental, vaguely suspicious.

Take for instance this piece of text from the French anthem:

Que veut cette horde d’esclaves,
De traîtres, de rois conjurés ?
Pour qui ces ignobles entraves
Ces fers dès longtemps préparés ? (bis)
Français, pour nous, ah! quel outrage

What does this horde of slaves,
Of traitors and conspiring kings want?
For whom these vile chains
These long-prepared irons? (repeat)
Frenchmen, for us, ah! What an insult

So when writing accents, all those î, é, è and ç, I usually check a quick reference table of special html characters: the acute accent (´) is written as ´ in HTML code and ´ in character code.

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