Ar a laghad níl ach marc idirdhealaitheach amháin sa Ghaeilge anois, cé go mbíodh an ponc séimhithe ann chomh maith. Sa lá atá inniu ann, cuirtear ‘h’ in ndiaidh an chonsain in ionad an phoinc, mar shampla ‘ach’ in ionad ‘aċ’.

Ní h-aon iontas go mbíodh imní faoi mharcanna idirdhealaitheacha, go h-áirithe i measc an lucht foghlama. Bhí an ponc séimhithe coitianta san am go mbíodh pinn tobair in usáid, seachas na pinn ghránbhiorracha. Bhí sé de nós ag roinnt daoine an peann a chroitheadh os cionn an leathanaigh, ag súil is go nglacfaí le cuid des na braonta scaipthe mar phoinc shéimhithe.

At least there’s only one diacritic to deal with in Irish nowadays, although there used to be dot used over consonants to indicate ‘séimhiú’ (softening) of the consonant. Nowadays we use a ‘h’ after the consonant instead, so that, for example, ‘aċ’ is now written ‘ach’.

But it’s easy to see why diacritic anxiety would have afflicted some people, especially learners. The séimhiú overdot was in common use in days when people used fountain pens rather than ball points, and some people would resort to a strategy of shaking the pen over the page and hoping that some of the scattered droplets would be accepted as séimhiús.

Peann & Dúch