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Accents on Capital Letters?

Jun 6, 2009 1:42 PM

Hi,

Are you supposed to use accent marks on capital letters?  I'm creating a design (for a graphic-design class) about the painter Salvador Dali (the Ii in his last name has an accent mark on it).  I'm going to use the name DALI in all-caps.  I'm not sure if the accent is used in all caps.  Does anyone know?

 

Thanks, Phyllis

 
Replies
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 6, 2009 2:18 PM   in reply to phyllisj9

    Phyllis,

    Are you supposed to use accent marks on capital letters?

     

    Certainly. You might consider capitals and small capitals instead of all capitals as a subtler way to make the name stand out.

     
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    Jun 6, 2009 2:31 PM   in reply to phyllisj9

    You are welcome, Phyllis.

     
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  • Ramón G Castañeda
    11,247 posts
    Jul 27, 2006
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    Jun 6, 2009 8:12 PM   in reply to phyllisj9

    Phyllis,

     

    The rule is that, in Spanish, any letter that is supposed to be accented MUST have the written accent regardless of whether it's uppercase or lowercase. NO EXCEPTIONS, period.  It's by no means "optional" but mandatory.

     

    The reason that you sometimes see the accent over a capital letter omitted is caused by one or more of these possibilities:

     

    • The cheap typeface used lacks the glyph;

     

    • It is the product of an uneducated or undereducated individual.

     

    • The text was typed on a traditional typewriter.

     

    In regard to the latter, some second-rate schools in countries like Mexico propagate the myth that "las mayúsculas no se acentúan" (capital letters are not accented) and that has spilled over to usage by uneducated Spanish speakers in the USA, often semi-illiterate immigrants themselves or their offspring.  It is just plain WRONG!

     

    The myth is a leftover from the era of typewriters, when it became common practice to leave accents out in uppercase vowels because the accent was a separate keystroke and often made a hole in the paper as the force of both strokes superimposed on each other was combined on the paper.  Typewriters only had one accent key that situated the accent mark right over the x-line, fine for lowercase, but way too low for capitals.  It has absolutely no place in good typography.


     

    Pick up a good Spanish unilingual dictionary, like the DRAE*, and observe the entries of proper names like Ávila, Álvaro, Écija, etc.  The initial capital will always be accented if the grammatical rules require it.

     

    DRAE = "Diccionario de la Real Academia Española (de la Lengua)" (Dictionary of the Spanish Royal Academy of the Language).

     

    Message was edited by: Ramón G Castañeda

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 7, 2009 7:06 AM   in reply to phyllisj9

    Phyllis,

     

    What about shortening the I to make the accent mark fit, using your creative freedom?

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 7, 2009 11:21 AM   in reply to Ramón G Castañeda

    I will just note that different languages differ on this point. In some, dropping the accents from caps is quite acceptable, perhaps even preferred. So for people reading this thread, don't assume that what is true for Spanish is true for French, Italian, German, or whatever....

     

    Cheers,

     

    T

     
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  • Ramón G Castañeda
    11,247 posts
    Jul 27, 2006
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 7, 2009 6:28 PM   in reply to Thomas Phinney

    Thomas Phinney wrote:

     

    I will just note that different languages differ on this point. …don't assume that what is true for Spanish is true for French, Italian, German, or whatever....

     

    That may be true "for some languages", Thomas, but I would respectfully disagree with you in the case of the three examples you chose.

     

    Of course "acceptable" is such an ambiguous, subjective term… 

     
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