Thursday, December 11, 2008

Foreign Accents

The NY Times sometimes makes copy-editing decisions that I consider to be on the odd side. An opera review within the last year or so referred to David Daniels, likely the world's greatest countertenor, as "a countertenor." Contrast this with Samuel Ramey's wedding announcement, which referred to "Samuel Ramey, the bass, married [new wife's name], a soprano." That is as it should be, and Daniels is best referred to as "David Daniels, the countertenor."

Reading Anthony Tommasini's review of the Met production of a particular Massenet opera, I was astonished to find an accent aigue on "Meditation" and umlauts in the correct places in the soprano and baritone characters' names.

Out of sheer laziness, this blog eschews accents and diacriticals, and, in most circumstances, so does the Times. Look up Janacek in their archive, for example: no diacriticals. So what gives with Tommasini's review? Did he submit his copy with the diacriticals hand-inserted? Or did the Times upgrade its content-management or publishing system? Inquiring minds want to know!


Anonymous said...

I used to enter diacritics in web postings by using the HTML character set. But most browsers can read diacritic characters imported from Word, so now I type those names in a blank Word document and copy/paste them into my web data entry box.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Thank you! That is useful to know, though of course I'm still lazy.

jfl said...

Let's not be lazy. Bad enough newspapers are already. Diacritics röck!

Lisa Hirsch said...