I was watching some Pink Panther episodes on YouTube, and I noticed something weird.

The word COORDINATOR is written COÖRDINATOR with an Ö.

I searched for it in dictionaries and etymology references but found nothing.

Where did it come from? And are there any other similar cases?

Here are some pictures:

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  • 6
    "Naïve", "noël" and the given name "Zoë" are the only words I can think of that are still occasionally spelled with a diaeresis in English. All three come from the French where that's part of the correct spelling. My browser's spell checker doesn't accept any of them. This is the first time I've seen "coordinator" spelled with one.
    – gotube
    Oct 1, 2021 at 6:57
  • 3
    @gotube "Chloë" is sometimes written with a diaeresis, although "Chloe" is probably more common, and the usual French spelling is "Chloé".
    – rjpond
    Oct 1, 2021 at 7:14
  • 3
    "Other similar cases?" (1) Some words have optional accents, e.g. "café", "fiancé", and a smaller number have optional cedillas, e.g. "soupçon", "façade". Dictionaries will usually show both spellings. Personally I strongly believe in retaining these marks, because they are indicators of pronunciation, but not everyone agrees. (2) In English poetry, you occasionally see things like "learnèd" with a grave accent on the "e". This is to make clear that the "e" is pronounced rather than silent. This isn't done in ordinary prose.
    – rjpond
    Oct 1, 2021 at 10:41
  • 25
    The New Yorker magazine still uses this diaresis to spell words like coöperate and reëvaluate. It is a slightly irritating quirk that is tolerated by those who regard the magazine with affection. See this article for more.
    – TonyK
    Oct 1, 2021 at 11:26
  • 5
    When I first read the question title, I was reminded of Peter Sellers' character Inspector Clouseau's pronounciaton of the word "bomb". Oct 1, 2021 at 12:36

2 Answers 2


See Diaeresis:

The diaeresis indicates that a vowel should be pronounced apart from the letter that precedes it. For example, in the spelling 'coöperate', the diaeresis reminds the reader that the word has four syllables co-op-er-ate, not three, '*coop-er-ate'. In British English this usage has been considered obsolete for many years, and in US English, although it persisted for longer, it is now considered archaic as well

This is now considered an old-fashioned spelling practice in English.

  • 14
    @randomhead Some words are still often written with a hyphen (perhaps especially in the UK). "Co-operate" and "co-ordinate" rarely have a hyphen nowadays, but "co-op" retains its hyphen to distinguish it from "coop". "Re-educate" normally still has a hyphen.
    – rjpond
    Oct 1, 2021 at 6:21
  • 4
    Possibly of note, this was inherited from English’s Old French heritage, and is very different from the same symbology found in other Germanic languages, where it either forms a completely different letter (such as in Swedish) or modifies the pronunciation (as is the case of the German umlaut). Oct 1, 2021 at 11:43
  • 2
    The name Brontë is another relatively well-known example. As with the other examples, the diaresis is usually omitted these days.
    – Caledon
    Oct 1, 2021 at 15:29
  • 3
    In the case of a final e that might be mistaken for a silent e, I see é used much more frequently than ë.
    – KRyan
    Oct 1, 2021 at 19:54
  • 4
    @BruceWayne However, The New Yorker is well known for its style guide holding on to older practices which are no longer used by other English publications. Or, in other words, it deliberately affects an archaic style due to tradition. (Hence the reference to having a special machine to "punch out the dots.")
    – trlkly
    Oct 3, 2021 at 7:47

The letter o with umlaut (ö) quite frequently appears in German languages. I do not know where the clip comes from, but the below is the explanation from Wikipedia.

Ö in other languages

The letter ö also occurs in two other Germanic languages: Swedish and Icelandic, but it is regarded there as a separate letter, not as an umlauted version of o. Apart from Germanic languages, it occurs in the Uralic languages Finnish, Karelian, Veps, Estonian, Southern Sami, and Hungarian, in the Turkic languages such as Azeri, Turkish, Turkmen, Uyghur (Latin script), Crimean Tatar, Kazakh, and in the Uto-Aztecan language Hopi, where it represents the vowel sounds [ø, œ]. Its name in Finnish, Swedish, Icelandic, Estonian, Azeri, Turkish, Turkmen, Uyghur, Crimean Tatar, Hungarian, Votic and Volapük is Öö [øː], not "O with two dots" since /ø/ is not a variant of the vowel /o/ but a distinct phoneme.

  • 21
    That's not a very useful answer, to be honest. Its use in other Germanic languages is irrelevant. In fact, although English is genealogically a Germanic language, the use of the diaeresis to separate two vowels (not to create a separate vowel sound as in German or Swedish) is more akin to how the tréma is used in French.
    – rjpond
    Oct 1, 2021 at 5:32
  • 16
    The German word umlaut literally means "Change of sound" (so -au "ow" becomes -äu "oy"), whereas diaeresis for the English symbol comes from the Greek διαιρεῖν "to divide, separate" and allows adjacent vowels to be distinguished from each other. Oct 1, 2021 at 10:38

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