24 FEBRUARY 2001, Page 30

Spelling for grown-ups

From Mr Andrew Wilton Sir: David Pryce-Jones has presumably perused many issues of the New Yorker, as he implies in his review of David Remnick's edition of profiles from that magazine (Books, 17 February). Yet he doesn't seem to have noticed that it has always been the New Yorker's style to print words such as 'co-operate' and 'pre-eminent' without a hyphen but with a diaeresis — not, as he calls it, an umlaut, which is a quite different diacritical mark.

The diaeresis is found occasionally and residually in a few English words like 'naïve'. As the New Yorker uses it, it is a grown-up spelling that I sometimes think we would do well to copy, especially in these times when many single words like 'reconstruct' are given hyphens by people who should know better.

Andrew Wilton

London SW11