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Tilde (was: Sanskrit romanization)

From:John Cowan <cowan@...>
Date:Saturday, May 1, 2004, 14:59
Javier BF scripsit:

> I was thinking of the acute accent but wrote "tilde" because > at school we were taught to improperly call the acute accent > "tilde" in Spanish, while "acento" was used for stress and > no name was given to us for the diacritic of "ñ" (we simply > learned to see it as a unique letter and rarely referred > specifically to its upper part, which when so we called > simply "la rayita de la eñe", the small stroke of the eñe).
Quite rightly so, historically. "Tilde" (English "tittle") is any diacritical mark or small detached part of a letter. So naturally in Spanish it's going to mean the acute, since that is the chief diacritic (there is also the diaeresis over u). I suspect that "tilde" came to mean specifically ~ in English because of the influence of Portuguese "til". (Historically, both are highly reduced versions of "n".) In the King James Version of Matthew 5:18, Jesus says: For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the [Jewish written] law till all is fulfilled. By which he means that not one iota (the smallest Greek letter), nor even one diacritical mark, shall be removed or disregarded. "Jot or tittle" has come to mean any fine detail; we similarly speak of "dotting the i's and crossing the t's" for attention to detail. -- Go, and never darken my towels again! John Cowan --Rufus T. Firefly