Internet shorthand is ubiquitous, but in our desire to get words out quickly, meaning can be muddled or lost. Case in point: Accent marks, one of the foremost linguistic casualties of the digital age. Now, defenders of the Spanish language are trying to bring the neglected markings back.
Spanish speakers often replace simple accented words, such as “qué” (what) or “más” (more) with accent-free shorthand. While there’s nothing wrong with a little internet slang, trouble arises when folks stop using accents entirely. That can lead to some real misunderstandings, as illustrated by this tweet, which reminds Spanish speakers that “Inglés” means English, while “Ingles” means groin:
— Prodigioso Volcán (@losdelvolcan) September 16, 2015
On Thursday, Spanish language nonprofit Fundación del Español Urgente launched an internet campaign to promote the use of accent marks under the hashtag #acentúate (accent yourself). Over the past few days, tens of thousands have taken up the banner and tweeted in support of accent marks, including actor Antonio Banderas.
— Antonio Banderas (@antoniobanderas) September 16, 2015
As a native English speaker, it can be easy to forget about accents entirely. But personally, I’m happy to see this campaign taking off and will try my best to follow suit. My Spanish is plenty rusty, a fact which I don’t need to be making more obvious by telling people I speak groin.