One of the more ill-governed areas of newspaper style is the use of diacritics (you know, the áccents on foreigñ wørds). To me, leaving an accent out of somebody’s name is the same as misspelling it. That is just my opinion, and if a newspaper chooses to leave them out altogether then that’s fair enough, but what continues to strike me is the lack of consistency. Take a look at this from the Guardian (the bold type is my own):
Fiorentina themselves had endured a deeply mediocre start to the season, winning only three of their first 12 games, yet this one was in the bag as early as the 17th minute. That was as long as it took for Juan to receive Roma’s first red card, bundling Stevan Jovetic over inside the area before the Montenegrin himself slotted home the penalty. With Roma’s other top two centre-backs, Nicolás Burdisso and Simon Kjaer, already out through injury, securing a result already looked a tall order.
Yet the great curiosity with Roma’s performance from there was that despite being a man down (and later more than one), they continued to both dominate possession and dictate the areas of the pitch in which the game would be played. Fernando Gago was subsequently shown a second yellow card with a quarter of an hour to play, before Krkic was sent off for handling on the line in the 85th minute, yet still Roma finished with 57% of possession, and with the ball having spent considerably more time in Fiorentina’s half than their own.
What we need here, as anyone of a certain familiarity with Montenegrin, Danish or Serbian will tell you, is Jovetić and Kjær in the first paragraph and Krkić in the second. You may think I’m just being picky (if so: why are you here?) but the Guardian‘s convention for foreign names is enshrined in their own stylebook.
Use accents on French, German, Portuguese, Spanish and Irish Gaelic words – and, if at all possible, on people’s names in any language, eg Sven-Göran Eriksson (Swedish), Béla Bartók (Hungarian).
Even if it were the paper’s house style to leave out diacritics then what– and you may have spotted this already, in which case ten points to Gryffindor – has Nicolás Burdisso done to earn an accent on his forename?
It could be that the reason Burdisso gets a diacritic while Jovetić, Kjær and Krkić do not is that a vowel with an acute accent is extremely easy to produce on a Windows PC (Alt Gr + desired vowel) whereas the same accent on a consonant takes a little more effort, as does the Nordic ligature æ.
But it would take an extremely cynical person to suppose that a journalist might knowingly flaunt his* style guide for the sake of a little less work. And who ever heard of a cynical subeditor?
*Sorry, but the absence of a gender-neutral singular pronoun is one of the English language’s more annoying shortcomings. And the journalist in this case was a “he”, anyway.