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Public Editor Sylvia Stead responds to readers and gives a behind-the-scenes look

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Moët & Chandon champagne. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
Moët & Chandon champagne. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

Public editor: Why some words have accents in The Globe and others don’t Add to ...

I regularly hear from readers who complain that The Globe and Mail misses accents on Spanish, German or several other languages. They argue especially that an accent is often part of a name and is well known with someone like Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, which includes a tilde on the “n” in Pena.

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The Globe’s policy is to use accents on French names and words but not on words in other languages. The belief is that Canadian editors should know the correct accents for French words but cannot be expected to know the accents for other languages. I think that is a fair policy.

Still, that policy is not followed well on French words and many accents are either missed or the wrong one is included. This should not be happening with either common French words or names. All personal names and company names should be checked and verified where possible, whether in English or French. Part of that check should be to see if there is an accent.

One reader noted last week that two references to the champagne maker Moët & Chandon had the two dots (le tréma) incorrectly over the “o” rather than the “e”. The same article neglected to include an accent on one French name. The reader quite rightly said: “I suggest that the Globe, as a self-styled ‘national’ publication, has an obligation to correct French errors publicly and prominently to demonstrate its commitment to this country’s historical essence and help counter our ongoing descent into multicultural mush.”

Then there are times when accents are incorrectly added and change the meaning of the word. A recent article talked about someone who had collected two cardboard suitcases full of nuts. “Mom threw my caché out with the trash,” the article said. More likely it was his cache.

If you have any concerns with what you read in The Globe and Mail, please e-mail me at publiceditor@globeandmail.com or reach me on Twitter @sylviastead.

 

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