Q&A: Why does English not have diacritics (accent marks) like many European languages and Vietnamese?

Question by : Why does English not have diacritics (accent marks) like many European languages and Vietnamese?
I saw a sign once that proclaimed “I wish English had more interesting characters” or something like that. There really was no point, the sign was for an art show. But why does English not have any of these? Spanish has the tilde, French (Portuguese and Turkish too) has the cedilla, German has the umlaut, Nordic languages have a slash through some letters, and Vietnamese has an accent on every other letter.

Best answer:

Answer by Kayla
English is better. Plain and simple.

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3 thoughts on “Q&A: Why does English not have diacritics (accent marks) like many European languages and Vietnamese?”

  1. Cuz the language is simple and different. Some English words were derived from French words, Latin words, etc.
    For example: a barista, bon appetit, etc.

    adieu “until God”
    Used like “farewell”: when you don’t expect to see the person again until God (when you die and go to Heaven)

    agent provocateur “provocative agent”
    A person who attempts to provoke suspected individuals or groups into committing unlawful acts

    aide-de-camp “camp assistant”
    A military officer who serves as a personal assistant to a higher-ranking officer

    aide-mémoire “memory aid”
    1. Position paper
    2. Something that acts as an aid to memory, such as crib notes or mnemonic devices

    à la carte “on the menu*”
    French restaurants usually offer a menu with choices for each of the several courses at a fixed price (how to read a French menu). If you want something else (a side order), you order from the carte. *Note that menu is a false cognate in French and English.

    à la minute “to the minute”
    This term is used in restaurant kitchens for dishes which are cooked to order, rather than made ahead of time

    à la mode “in fashion, style”
    In English, this means “with ice cream” – apparently someone decided that having ice cream on pie was the fashionable way to eat it.

    amour-propre “self love”
    Self respect

    apéritif “cocktail”
    From Latin, “to open”

  2. Well, let’s start with Vietnamese — the writing system was developed by Americans and the diacritical marks (accents) are necessary because Vietnamese has some very weird phonetic characteristics (because it is related to Chinese).

    Turkish used to be spelled in Arabic letters, but Kamal Ataturk decided that for Turkey to be a secular society, they should use Roman letters. To make the alphabet phonetic, they added all those diacritical marks.

    The reason European languages have diacritical marks is to make it easy for foreigners to pronounce the words.

    Now, why does English not have such things? First, because English is not exactly written phonetically. (Think of words like though, slough, tough, thought, and so on). So having marks to show the exact phonetics would be silly. Also, English tries for a minimalist approach, which has worked very well for it on the internet.

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