A Campaign to Bring Back Accent Marks is Sweeping the Internet

Illustration for article titled A Campaign to Bring Back Accent Marks is Sweeping the Internet

Internet shorthand is ubiquitous, but in our desire to get words out quickly, meaning can be muddled or lost. Case in point: Accent marks, one of the foremost linguistic casualties of the digital age. Now, defenders of the Spanish language are trying to bring the neglected markings back.

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Spanish speakers often replace simple accented words, such as “qué” (what) or “más” (more) with accent-free shorthand. While there’s nothing wrong with a little internet slang, trouble arises when folks stop using accents entirely. That can lead to some real misunderstandings, as illustrated by this tweet, which reminds Spanish speakers that “Inglés” means English, while “Ingles” means groin:

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On Thursday, Spanish language nonprofit Fundación del Español Urgente launched an internet campaign to promote the use of accent marks under the hashtag #acentúate (accent yourself). Over the past few days, tens of thousands have taken up the banner and tweeted in support of accent marks, including actor Antonio Banderas.

As a native English speaker, it can be easy to forget about accents entirely. But personally, I’m happy to see this campaign taking off and will try my best to follow suit. My Spanish is plenty rusty, a fact which I don’t need to be making more obvious by telling people I speak groin.

[Quartz]


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DISCUSSION

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NewYorkCityBoy

which reminds Spanish speakers that “Inglés” means English, while “Ingles” means groin

I know this is going to sound snarky, but are people really incapable of putting words in context? Surely the whole sentence will inform whether the word means “English” rather than “groin.”

It even happens in English: a “resumé” (which is actually a French word) is a document that details your work qualifications and history, while “resume” means to continue a previously-discontinued activity. Frequently the former is written without the accent mark, but we can usually figure out what the meaning is from the context of the sentence.