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Style Sheet

from Wednesday, December24th of the year2008.

How come the New York times sticks all the accents and circonflexes everywhere when they write about France? Look:

In Paris, however, the bûche is another opportunity for creativity, commerce, competition and consumption. Every bakery has bûches, large and small, but the big houses like Dalloyau and Lenôtre, and the artisan pastry and chocolate shops, like Jean-Paul Hévin and Pierre Hermé, all produce special bûches every year.

And then when they write about Iceland, they can’t get a little ö to happen:

Audur Capital, a venture capital firm in Reykjavik, Iceland, has started its second fund, named Bjork, with 100 million Icelandic kronur (about $816,330) from Bjork and the firm. They are raising more money now, with the goal of closing the fund in March. The Bjork fund will invest in early-stage businesses concentrating on green technology, with the goal of helping fuel a recovery of Iceland’s economy, which was devastated by a financial crisis this fall.

Now, this is actually really, really interesting. Audur Capital (or, Auður Capital, rather) claims, on their hömepāge: “Our company is founded by women with a vision to incorporate feminine values into the world of finance.”

Does anybody remember how a few months ago, there was an article in the Guardian (and a little comment here) that read:

Women in Iceland, as elsewhere, are generally more practical than men, they have their feet more squarely on the ground and they study the consequences of the risks they take with greater diligence, says Tomasdottir, who on the week I was in Reykjavik gave a speech on the subject that was received with almost evangelical excitement by the 100 influential women present. Among them was Oddny Sturludottir, a Reykjavik city councillor, who emerged from the meeting eyes blazing.

“˜We are all furious in Iceland but women especially so,’ she said. “˜We trusted the men at the helm and now we feel fooled, and totally convinced that if it had been women in charge we wouldn’t be owing all these billions right now. They talk about the Viking model! What is the Viking model? Rapists and robbers! That’s no model for the 21st century.’

So, this is great! Halla & Kristín are getting it going. Somebody needs to write to the Times, though, and get them to organize some ö and á. If they’re going to run around talking about bûche this and bûche that, it’s only fair.


  • The lack of diacritics when the NYT writes about Turkish people is even more irritating, since it renders the pronunciation of some names in a pretty much phonetic language impossible to guess.

  • Ultimately, perhaps, the choice is either going all the way with the local language’s alphabet and orthography (how about Hungarian, in which the vowels have long and a short forms: a – á, e – é, i – í, o – ó, u – ú, ö – Å‘, ü – ű ?) or returning to and adopting even more anglified forms (keeping, for example, elegant-if-imperial old place-names like Cologne, Aix-la-Chapelle, Bombay, Madras, & Naples, and adding such names as John S. Brook, Frank Flour, Joe Green, & George Grove (for Bach, Liszt, Verdi, Ligeti, respectively).

  • What a smart way for Bjork to help I like that.

  • I would be curious to see how the Times handles Blue Öyster Cult, Motörhead and Mötley Crüe. I guess since none of them are French…

  • how amusing.