Thursday, January 14, 2010

Therese or Thérèse

There I was on my early morning walk with the dog, wondering whether I should do Thérèse the honour of using her diacritics. I was deep in thought about this important question, and I remembered some news items about our Prime Minister's wife, Thérèse Rein. She copped some flak for insisting on her acute and grave. Thérèse deserves no less.

As I crossed the railway bridge going towards Erskineville thinking about this topic, I stepped on a piece of slippery cardboard on the footpath. My foot slipped, I threw my arms up to grab something, and my keys went flying. Where were they? I looked around, not there. I looked over the side of the railing, and there they were. They had fallen down one of the very few very small gaps in the wire, and were lying on a concrete plinth about two feet below me. Thank goodness they had not fallen all the way through to the railway line, but how was I going to retrieve them? What to do? Hmmm.

The pupster wanted to continue his walk, and I didn't think anyone was going to see the keys, let alone be able to get at them. We continued on our walk around. In the park I spoke to one of the regulars on the park bench (I often speak to her - is she an alcoholic? does she have a mental illness? She never looks happy, she looks very shy, but seems happy to be spoken to) and we both wondered what I would do.

When the walk was done, I went home and got a wire coathanger and returned to the scene. My friend on the park bench was interested in how I was going to cope with this. I could just get my head and arm through the railings, but there was no way the coat hanger was going to reach. Starting home to think about another tool (or calling the council for help), I realised that I could unwind the neck of the coathanger to make one much longer wire with a hook on the end. It was *just* long enough to hook the keys, and I was saved. As I read the newspaper this morning about the increasing amount of litter in the streets, I thought about that damned slippery cardboard on the footpath, and blessed the existence of wire coathangers.

Back to thinking about Therese vs Thérèse. It is easy enough to copy and paste the ampersandeacutesemicolon and ampersandsegravesemicolon each time, and perhaps I owe Thérèse the distinction of her real name. If I had a diacritic on my name, I know I would want it there, just as Thérèse Rein wants hers.

What are the ramifications? How will it print? Is it searchable under just Therese-with-no-accents? Investigations revealed that the search engines know about this problem. See here and here. My decision is to use the accents, in deference to my heroine.

Galoon report: It is on its way!

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