It had to happen, that one of the New Yorker’s fabled proofreaders missed a diacritical mark. If you don’t know it, this magazine is the last hold-out for spelling co-op with an umlaut, but no hyphen. Coöp. And, actors who rôle play.
So I nearly coughed up my lunch when I read [Apr. 26, p. 20] “Obama’s terminally naive 'engagement' has achieved nothing but the loss or 15 months.” NO! It’s naïve with an umlaut—those two little German dots on a French word that changes the pronunciation.
But, the New Yorker can’t claim to have misplaced its pocketbook full of punctuation following an afternoon of sherry tippling, because in the next column we see Richard Perle, “the Reagan Administration’s über-hawk.” For a moment, I thought I saw the sun setting on the tidal flats of American civilization, but it really was a lapse caused by age. Don’t we all forget where we put our accent marks now and then?