The sound of capitalization

I’ve been rereading the Wheel of Time book series, half because it’s fun and half because soon the antepenultimate installment will be released. In case you couldn’t tell. And there’s one particular way the author, Robert Jordan, describes how people in different societies react to each other’s use of language — especially terms of art and ritual language — that gets to me. I can only recall it happening maybe three or four times as of the 7th book, but it gets me every time.

“Yes, but there is the matter of the Bargain.” That word was plainly capitalized in Harine’s tone.

Much as this particular narrative technique grates on me, let’s set aside the translation from whatever orthographic conventions we imagine the folks in this universe use into the notion of English spelling. Let’s just pretend that “that word was plainly capitalized” means “that was clearly a special word, denoting a special referent.” I have to wonder: what features of pronunciation, either of the word or the utterance, could tell you that? If “tone” includes pauses, then perhaps a longer-than-average pause before “the Bargain” might do it. Though the way most characters in the books seems to simply presuppose that outsiders know How Things Work, this would be a marked difference. Or maybe Jordan simply meant that Harine used air quotes.

Hawai’ian okina a diacritic

Today’s Teen Jeopardy’s final question/answer was (paraphrasing)

This is the only [US] state that, when written correctly, has a diacritical mark [see below]

After going through my inventory of diacritics and possible parts of state names other than the proper name part (as in The State of California, or something like that), I came to the conclusion that it must be Hawai’i. And indeed this is the response Alex was waiting for.

It’s really too bad, because as far as I can tell, the ‘okina should be, and usually is, considered a separate character (a “letter”), expressing the glottal stop. It is not a diacritical mark, which intuitively is supposed to alter the pronunciation of a letter, not indicate a separate sound. Of course there are many cases where an a diacritic in fact does something rather more (e.g., the cedilla in several Turkic languages). And IIRC there are orthographies in which a true diacritic is used to mark glottal stops. But the ‘okina is not (in) one of them.

[edit: Some websites report the exact final Jeopardy answer as: "It's the only state name that when spelled officially contains a diacritical mark."]