Monday, October 16, 2006

Ordonez vs. Ordoñez

Magglio Ordoñez, the patron saint of Detroit, is from Venezuela, where they do funny things with names. For instance, Magglio's dad, Maglio, added an extra "g" to his little slugger's name for good luck.

They also like to put those funny accent thingys (when I want to impress the ladies, I call them diacritical marks) over certain letters. Like "Ordoñez." But then why do most newspapers and Web sites do "Ordonez"? It's because many publications take a scorched-earth style policy to accents. They figure that they print in English, English doesn't use diacritical marks, they don't need no stinking diacritical marks.

I agree with that, except for names. "Resume" looks dumb with those cowlicks sticking off each "e," but a name is a name. So long as the name is impossible to read as spelled (let's say some punk rocker named Fred spelled his name "#$%@!^^^^" -- I'd still want to spell it "Fred"), I think publications should honor name spellings.

And, honestly, we should do whatever Magglio asks these days. Viva los Tigres!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Part of it is that accents can frequently turn up as question marks on browsers if the character encoding doesn't match up.

Most people view their sites in Western, Unicode or English. But uncommon punctuation, like smart quotes, and accents will frequ?ently make your artic?les look l?ke this.

1:47 PM  
Blogger Craig said...

Well now that's a good damn point, anonymous. But it's still an unfortunate way to make style decisions.

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Libby said...

All I can is I dig Ordonez's style mucho!

3:20 PM  
Anonymous anonymous said...


Shouldn't "thingys" be "thingies"?

Or maybe, using monkey style, "thingees"?

p.s. -- Your mom uses monkey style.

5:18 PM  
Blogger Craig said...

Well, it's not in American Heritage, and I'll check Webster's when I get home, anonymous.

And if monkey style is good enough for Ma, it'll damn well serve you just fine.

5:27 PM  
Blogger Captain Syntax said...

Refusal to use standard diacritical marks is seriously lazy and not a little jingoistic.
That said, the common use of them in U.S. outlets probably ain't gonna happen any time soon.
Some folks try.
Here's this from the "Standards Editor" at the NY Times.

"The Use of Accents

Q. Of late, the NYT has been very careful with Spanish diacritical marks used in the names of Latin ballplayers. Is this new? Does it apply outside of baseball? What other (Latin-based) languages are spelled using their diacritical marks?

-- Robert I. Block, Highland Park, N.J.

A. We may not be rigorously consistent enough in following our own Stylebook, but for at least 30 years, and probably longer than that, it has said that the newspaper uses accent marks in French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and German words and names. We use accents in the Spanish names of United States residents only if they use them themselves; and should use them for all residents of Puerto Rico, the Stylebook says. We don't try to use the accents found in Hungarian, Scandinavian languages, Vietnamese, etc. because they are less familiar to American readers, writers, and editors........"

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