Yet the “Grauniad”, once upon a time notorious for its then abundant misprints, still does not always get it quite right. Its travel supplement recently carried a piece about an Icelandic destination it identified as “Øxarfjørdur”.
Er… I thought it was only Danish and Norwegian that used the letter ø in their orthographies (oh, and Faroese).
Yes indeed. The correct spelling of the place in Iceland is Öxarfjörður.
Which brings me to the question of typing such letters when you need them in a document.
Users of Word very often have no idea how to type them when they’re not immediately available on the keyboard. They don’t know about Word’s “keyboard shortcuts for international characters”.
In Word you do Ctrl-', a to get á, Ctrl-', e to get é, and so on. With Ctrl-: plus the vowel letter you get an umlaut (diaeresis, trema), as in ä, ö, ü. With Ctrl-ˆ you get circumflexed vowels, with Ctrl-` grave accents. Even less well-known, I suspect, are Ctrl-/, o for ø and Ctrl-', d for ð. Every phonetician should know these last two, together with Ctrl-&, a for æ and Ctrl-&, o for œ.
In this way you can get all the accented letters needed for West European languages (including Icelandic but not including Welsh), without resorting to Insert Character or customized shortcuts. (I was appalled to see an article in a recent issue of the Linguist explaining how to create elaborate macros just to get the letters you need for French, German and Spanish — entirely unnecesssary.)
It’s a pity that the Microsoft programmers stopped there: why can’t we have the Ctrl-' trick not just for áéíóúý but also for ćńŕśź? Why can’t we use Ctrl-^ for ĉĝĥĵŝŵŷ? And so on?
The Windows operating system itself offers some further posibilities. In the UK we all know that to get the euro symbol, €, we do AltGr-4. We can also use the AltGr key to get acute accents on vowels: for example AltGr+a gives you á. In other locales there are other possibilities (see here). These keyboard shortcuts are determined by the operating system, so work in any application (whereas the Word ones only work in Word).