HomeQ&AThe meaning of "accent" and "tilde"

The meaning of "accent" and "tilde"

6
votes

I´ve always thought that an accent was a mark used to indicate an accent, stress, etc., For example, that used in the word información. And a tilde was the mark one places over words such as mañana for pronunciation.

However, I just referred a student to the Reference article here on SpanishDict to explain accents and the article says:

If the stress is on the last syllable (aguda) and the word ends in vowel, 'n', or 's', it must have a tilde (Panamá, ratón, cortés)

Paralee goes on to talk about "tildes," but she's really referring to what I'd call accents.

Is this a mistake in the Reference article or am I mistaken in my definition of accents and tildes?

Here's the Reference Article.

24159 views
updated MAY 28, 2016
edited by --Mariana--
posted by --Mariana--

9 Answers

7
votes

Maybe it's a false cognate, because in English, the word "tilde" definitely refers to the ~ mark, (see http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tilde and also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilde ) this symbol is also used in logic and mathematics, and in those contexts is also referred to as "tilde".

Our Spanish dictionary here does not recognize it as an English word, and the translations given for the Spanish word (spelled the same) suggest that it's use by Spanish speakers is more broad, referred to not only the ~ but also a dot or a dash over the letter.

I think this is one of those cases where some of us come from a background of more precise use of certain terms, and others a more loose usage. For example, in English, "accent" would more precisely refer to marks over vowels, each with their own names also, like "diaeresis" for ¨ (two dots above), and "grave" for ` (reversed dash above), and "caret" (or "circumflex") for ^ (triangle-like mark above).

I have a strong background in both mathematics and logic, so I've been used to the word "tilde" referring exclusively to the ~ for a long time, but I recognize that others just don't have the same background, and it appears that in Spanish it is acceptable to use the word "tilde" to refer to all types of symbols above both vowels and consonants.

Also you may be interested to see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diacritic

"Diacritic" is the more general term, which some people are equating with "accent". On the wiki page you can see the specific names for various diacritics (including "tilde" for ~)

updated FEB 21, 2011
edited by arnold3
posted by arnold3
Thanks, Arnold. That explains a lot. - --Mariana--, OCT 30, 2009
1
vote

It bothers me that SpanishDict and Fluencia call an acute accent ( ´ ) a tilde ( ˜ ). "Tilde" may have a broader meaning in Spanish, but when an explanation is in English, you should use the correct word, not a Spanish word that has a different meaning. That's just wrong, and those who do it should be tilded until they accent.

updated MAY 28, 2016
posted by mlou
1
vote

¡Hola!, Marianne:

I'm pretty sure that Paralee's reference article is correct. I would vote her up on this.

I found this earlier entry from Lazarus1907 and have seen the same support from Qfreed and other sources outside Span¡shD!ct.

Please join me in this so we are once again on the same side.

Recuerdos/Regards,

Moe

updated OCT 30, 2009
edited by Moe
posted by Moe
Edited to add the hyper link which I left out of the original entry. - Moe, OCT 30, 2009
Thank you for that link, Moe. I see that you and Paralee are right! - --Mariana--, OCT 30, 2009
1
vote

tilde=accent in Spanish

updated OCT 30, 2009
posted by ismarodri_uy
So a tilde is both this mark ñ and this mark á ? - --Mariana--, OCT 30, 2009
tilde=acento gráfico - 0074b507, OCT 30, 2009
The mark over the ñ has no name. Tilde is the accent á,é,í,ó,ú. - ismarodri_uy, OCT 30, 2009
Yes, in Spanish. No, in English...the tilde would only refer to the ñ. Tilde in English is used in mathematics and logic. - 0074b507, OCT 30, 2009
I didn't knew 'tilde' was a word in English. - ismarodri_uy, OCT 30, 2009
'tilde' is definitely a word in English as well. See my answer for more details. - arnold3, OCT 30, 2009
I use the word tilde everyday in logic classes. - sunshinzmommie, OCT 30, 2009
0
votes

HI Marianne, in theory, this is correct, of course, however, we do not normally use tilde when speaking:

Bueno, yo suelo decir "acento" para referirme a la "tilde"... (por ejemplo: mi nombre se escribe con acento en la e).

No es la primera palabra del español que tiene varios significados...

this is taken from this thread and I agree, tilde would perhaps not even be understood by everybodywink

updated OCT 31, 2009
posted by 00494d19
Thanks, Heidita. :-) - --Mariana--, OCT 31, 2009
0
votes

Thank you, everyone, for your help on this. grin

updated OCT 30, 2009
posted by --Mariana--
0
votes

I've only just seen this thread so I cannot add anything new, but would like to endorse the statements that -

In English a tilde is '~' and only that if you have a mathematical / scientific background - but this is a symbol in its own right (it means 'is approximately equal to'), not an accent.

An accent in English refers to any mark intended to change the pronunciation of a letter. Of course, there aren't any commonly used in English so I know them by the names from their original languages of which I learnt a little in school;

French: Acute, Grave, Cedilla, Circumflex

German: Umlaut

But, sadly, I didn't learn any Spanish at school so I didn't know any accent names when I came to it!

updated OCT 30, 2009
posted by Jespa
Thanks, Jespa. - --Mariana--, OCT 30, 2009
0
votes

I always thought the same thing.....three years later, I understand that they are all called tildes. Confusing at first, I know!! I used tildes everyday in logic.

updated OCT 30, 2009
edited by sunshinzmommie
posted by sunshinzmommie
I agree that they're all called "accents" but Paralee is calling them all "tildes." Which confused me. However, I'm learning that it's correct in Spanish to do that. - --Mariana--, OCT 30, 2009
I meant to type tildes, whoops, :) - sunshinzmommie, OCT 30, 2009
0
votes

Quentin said:

Yes, in Spanish. No, in English...the tilde would only refer to the ñ

So, are you saying that we have two words for the different types of accents in English, i.e., the accent mark is a ' and the tilde is a ~ ?

But in Spanish both types of marks are called tildes?

updated OCT 30, 2009
edited by --Mariana--
posted by --Mariana--
I believe that's right, see my answer below....Spanish and English use this word differently...and yes, it's confusing. ;-) - arnold3, OCT 30, 2009
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