California bill seeks to include accent marks on vital documents

California bill seeks to include accent marks on vital documentsCalifornia bill seeks to include accent marks on vital documents
via California Assembly Democrats, Ken Lund (CC BY-SA 2.0)
A bill that would allow diacritical marks on important documents, such as birth and marriage certificates, is seeing movement in California.
Introduced by Assemblymember Blanca Pacheco, Assembly Bill 77 is expected to impact not only Latinos — the state’s largest racial or ethnic group — but many other communities that utilize accents in their languages.
“Being able to properly spell a name is important and this bill isn’t just for the Latino community. There are so many other ethnicities that have some type of accent in their name,” Pacheco said, as per KCRA.
Diacritical marks, or simply diacritics, are placed above, below or next to a letter to indicate the specific pronunciation of a name or word. 
Accents, cedillas, graves and tildes are some examples used in Southeast Asian languages, such as Vietnamese and Filipino, while umlauts are further used in some African and European languages.
California discontinued the use of accent marks after 1986, when voters approved a proposition that elected English as their official language, according to Axios. At present, California’s population is 39% Latino, 35% white, 15% Asian American or Pacific Islander, 5% Black, 4% multiracial and less than 1% Native American or Alaska Native, making it one of the country’s most diverse states.
Alaska, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, North Carolina, Oregon and Texas are the only states that currently allow accent marks in official records, with Utah following last March.
Pablo Espinoza, a father from Elk Grove, California, with a child named Nicolás, recalled his family’s dilemma with their state.
“When we wanted to put the name on his birth certificate, when he was born, we found out that it was illegal,” he told ABC 10. “And I was like, ‘Really?'”
Nancy Chaires Espinoza, an Assembly staffer and Pablo’s wife, said diacritical marks are “much more than grammar.”
“It might seem very minor to a lot of people that don’t have that sort of sense of connection with our roots. But it’s much more than grammar. It’s about identity. It’s about our values,” she told the Sacramento Bee.

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