November 22, 2015

"Welcome to our home. Please take a moment to review our latest statement regarding so-called micro-aggressions..."

"... together with a revised list of 'trigger warning' requests. Kindly commit the following to memory...."

Trigger warning for Althouse readers: There's a New Yorker humor piece at that link. You can get in without a subscription. I've pre-screened it for you, and I think it's a safe space for those who are sensitive to sensitivity about microaggressions.
Sincere compliments concerning our personal appearance are always welcome. However, tones of surprise, as in such comments as “Hey, you look great!” or “Nice!” suggest a preëxisting lesser opinion, and are therefore deemed to be wounding.
Oh? Did that hurt? I cruelly omitted a trigger warning about the diaresis:
Those two dots, often mistaken for an umlaut, are actually a diaeresis (pronounced “die heiresses”; it’s from the Greek for “divide”). 
Wow. Total microaggression against women. But only rich women, so I hope we're all okay.
The difference is that an umlaut is a German thing that alters the pronunciation of a vowel (Brünnhilde), and often changes the meaning of a word: schon (adv.), already; schön (adj.), beautiful. In the case of a diphthong, the umlaut goes over the first vowel. And it is crucial. A diaeresis goes over the second vowel and indicates that it forms a separate syllable. Most of the English-speaking world finds the diaeresis inessential. Even Fowler, of Fowler’s “Modern English Usage,” says that the diaeresis “is in English an obsolescent symbol.”...

The fact is that, absent the two dots, most people would not trip over the “coop” in “cooperate” or the “reel” in “reelect” (though they might pronounce the “zoo” in “zoological,” a potential application of the diaeresis that we get no credit for resisting). And yet we use the diaeresis for the same reason that we use the hyphen: to keep the cow out of co-workers.

27 comments:

Quaestor said...

Cow orkers.

Must be hidin' down by the crick with them ewe doers.

Hagar said...

Unhinged, indeed.

rhhardin said...

Making up a fake quote of a banned commenter to whom you pretend to respond is a microaggression.

Paco Wové said...

Roll on, tumbrils.

University of Kansas professor placed on leave after using racial slur in class discussion

BDNYC said...

The umlaut (dieresis) is strange stuff. Who doesn't know how to pronounce the word "cooperation"? I think the New Yorker does this to seem sophisticated and cosmopolitan. To make English more like the Romance languages.

Another possibility is that the New Yorker thinks some of its readers would benefit from this kind of guidance. That seems unlikely.

Hagar said...

Or untethered; like a dandelion seed in the breeze, or a spider-baby on a string of silk out for high adventure and general cultivation.

Anonymous said...

Total microaggression against women. But only rich women...

After every other day consultations with their shrinks, and daily shopping trips, rich women, the poor dears, have nothing else to do but to worry about microaggression, their latest neurosis.

Real women, middle class and poor, worry about real world's real aggression.

Skeptical Voter said...

I tell my guests that there is a fainting couch by the door. And if you're on it by the end of the evening, you won't be invited again.

Just kidding of course. And over a long life time there are only a couple of people I've banned from my home. My rule is that you can't be rude to other guests. And of course one of the easiest ways to be rude to others, or somehow offend them is to talk about sex, religion or politics. Those who wander into those areas do so at their own risk.

Michael K said...

Your screening of comments is working well. Down to a few only the past few days. I guess you prefer this.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

There's no cure for the long-i "myzzled" pronunciation of "misled," though. (Except, of course, a hyphen, and why didn't I think of that earlier?) Which Administration official was recently responsible for that one? Rice?

I've been cautious about such things ever since, as a child, I read an article in Ranger Rick magazine urging me enthusiastically to "reuse" that paper bag. I read "reuse" as a word of one syllable, and it took me a long time to understand what was meant.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Now if you could just write a piece distinguishing the ongarek from diaeresis and umlaut ...

Paco Wové said...

More Sunday morning click fodder:

40% of Millennials OK with limiting speech offensive to minorities

jaydub said...

It gets harder and harder to tell the parodies from the real thing.

Bobby said...

Let's Eat Grandma

Let's Eat, Grandma

-----------------------

Punctuation Saves Lives!

The Godfather said...

I had to look up Madeline Stowe. It seems that I saw two of her movies (Last of the Mohicans and We Were Soldiers) but don't remember her. I consider mentioning her to be a microaggresson for which a Trigger warning should have been issued (a Trigger warning is more serious than a mere trigger warning; think of Roy Rogers' horse).

Fernandinande said...

Paco Wové said...
University of Kansas professor placed on leave after using racial slur in class discussion


What a tip-toeing excuse for a news article. As usual. "Communication studies" again, how ironic.

Since they couldn't, uh, communicate what happened or what was said, I'll go with "The Chinks are messing with our balance of trade. Let's nuke 'em."

Deja Voodoo said...

Having learned multiple languages (grew up tri-lingual, added three more before completing high school) that use tittles and rings and such, I feel compelled to say the the double dot diacritic is a tréma. It indicates diaeresis (syllabification) or umlaut (vowel mutation in Germanic languages)(except in Heavy Metal Umlaut, e.g.: Blüe Öystër Cült) The sign is not the thing.
See Grimm, who in his spare time collected fairy tales.

Biff said...

Blogger Michelle Dulak Thomson said...There's no cure for the long-i "myzzled" pronunciation of "misled," though.

That caused quite a bit of confusion for me as a kid. In my remote, blue collar corner of New Jersey (ten miles from Manhattan), the long-i "myzelled" (we can argue about the proper spelling) had a couple of meanings, depending on context. The first had the connotation of "cheated," which, of course, is similar to "misled." For example, "He 'myzelled' his buddy out of ten dollars." The second was a straight contraction of "might as well." For example, "We myzel go home now," or "She myzel've gone home by now."

An odd thing, this language.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

In Gravity's Rainbow there's a German character who can't pronounce umlauts. When she surprises a handsome burglar she tries to yell out "hübsch räuber" (pretty thief) but can only say "hubschrauber" (helicopter), confusing everyone because helicopters hadn't been invented yet.

Big Mike said...

Total microaggression against women. But only rich women, so I hope we're all okay.

There are plenty of people in the world who would regard you as wealthy, Professor.

Bay Area Guy said...

Ooh, boy - the New Yorker is trying its hand at humor - kinda like watching a naked Rosie O'Donnell trying to shimmy her way into a small girdle.

The Left drinks from a fountain of stupid and dangerous ideas based on emotion and a utopian sense of social justice. When challenged or confronted by truth, they throw out a veritable field of land-mines ("micro-aggressions") to thwart their opponent and prevent an honest evaluation of their views.

This may work in college, but, sorry, it doesn't work in the real world.

Larry J said...

A microaggression is one-millionth (10^-6) of an aggression. If they can't handle 1/1000000 of an aggression, they're really pathetic and far too delicate for the real world. In the military, we had to deal with whole aggressions. Those who went to war and fought in close combat were dealing with kiloaggressions.

Char Char Binks said...

Queensrÿche is my second-favorite rÿche.

clint said...

The panda eats shoots and leaves.

The bandit eats, shoots, and leaves.

traditionalguy said...

I haven't laughed this much in years.

I am thankful for The Althouse Commenters.

Martha said...

Thank you the enlightenment.
I had always thought the two dots over the "ë" in Noël were called an umlaut having never heard of a diaeresis.

Anonymous said...

The dieresis is, grammatically, the opposite of the umlaut;
The dieresis indicates that the two vowels should be sounded separately (No-el).
The umlaut indicates that the two vowels should be sounded as one 'new' vowel, a diphthong. The word 'umlaut' translates into 'changed sound'.

The origins of the umlaut go back to monastic times. Scribes would insert a small 'e' over a vowel to indicate the diphthong. The 'e' was eventually replaced by the two dots as a way to save time and ink.

If you don't have an umlaut on your keyboard you need only to add an 'e' to follow the should-have-been-umlauted vowel. Like in 'Fuehrer'.

There will be a quiz Tuesday. Did you spot the diphthong?