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Interesting. It doesn't "feel" like any other accented letter. If I read, say, "despues" instead of "después", I'll know what it means, and I'll think "oh, forgot an accent". I can't think of any words in Spanish where the presence of absence of an accent will make a lot of difference.

Ñ, on the other hand, does. Substituting a N for a Ñ usually doesn't work, and it feels like a typo, not like a forgotten accent. There are also many words where the only difference is a N or a Ñ which have significantly different meaning (off the top of my head: año/ano, moño/mono).




I agree with you, and I was worried about this point myself while I decided to include the example in the article. In Spanish “notaries” is certainly not an anagram of “señorita”. I eventually decided along the lines of cdelsolar’s comment above: in English, it is also correct to spell “señorita” without the tilde.

I think the reason that ñ feels different to you than é is that while the é has never been more than a variation on an ‘e’, the ñ is actually an abbreviation for ‘nn’. For example, “año” is derived from Latin “anno” and “cañon” was originally from Latin “canna”. So I think the correct way to handle ñ may be to treat it like nn. (An analogous strategy for German, which people might find less surprising, would be to treat ‘ö’ and ‘ü’ as if they were ‘oe’ and ‘ue’; in older times in English, it was considered correct to equate “w” with “uu” in anagrams.)

On this plan, I find (in English)

      señoritas nestorian
but unfortunately nothing in Spanish. (There might be one though; I did not try hard and my Spanish data is of very poor quality.)

Also unfortunately, “señorita” is an exception, and was _never_ spelled with a double “n”. So for this example, the “nn” equivalence is less defensible.

Thank you for bringing up this point.


Thanks for the thorough explanation! I had never made the connection between "ñ" and "nn".

Still unsure about "in English, it is also correct to spell “señorita” without the tilde" - it doesn't seem to be an English word at all, can't find many references online, Google Translate corrects it to "señorita", neither Cambridge or Oxford dictionaries have it...




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