Diacritic

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Diacritical marks
Diacritics
accent
acute, apex( ´ )
double acute( ˝ )
grave( ` )
double grave(  ̏ )
breve( ˘ )
inverted breve(  ̑ )
caron / háček( ˇ )
cedilla / cédille( ¸ )
diaeresis, umlaut)( ¨ )
circumflex / vokáň( ˆ )
dot( · )
hook(  ̡  ̢ )
hook above / dấu hỏi(  ̉ )
horn / dấu móc(  ̛ )
macron, macron below( ¯  ̱ )
ogonek / nosinė( ˛ )
ring / kroužek( ˚, ˳ )
rough breathing / dasia( )
sicilicus(  ͗ )
smooth breathing / psili( ᾿ )
Marks sometimes used as diacritics
apostrophe( )
bar( | )
colon( : )
comma( , )
hyphen( ˗ )
tilde( ~ )
titlo(  ҃ )
Diacritical marks in other scripts
Arabic diacritics
Greek diacritics
Gurmukhi diacritics
Hebrew diacritics
Indic diacritics
anusvara( )
chandrabindu( )
nukta( )
virama( )
IPA diacritics
Japanese diacritics
dakuten( )
handakuten( )
Khmer diacritics
Syriac diacritics
Thai diacritics
Related
Punctuation marks

Evolution of early Arabic calligraphy (9th – 11th century). The Basmala was taken as an example, from kufic Qur’an manuscripts. (1) Early 9th century. script with no dots or diacritic marks [1]; (2) and (3)9th – 10th century under Abbasid dynasty, the Abu al-Aswad's system establish red dots with each arrangement or position indicating a different short vowel. Later, a second black dots system was used to differentiate between letters like "fāʼ" and "qāf" [2] [3]; (4) 11th century, In Al Farāhídi's system (system we know today) dots were changed into shapes resembling the letters to transcribe the corresponding long vowels [4].

A diacritic (/d.əˈkrɪtɨk/) (for example, an accent) is a mark put above, below, through or on a letter. The word comes from the Greek diakritikos = 'distinguishing'.

Usually, it affects the way the word is said (pronounced). Most diacritics concern pronunciation because alphabets do not describe the sounds of words exactly. Diacritics are rare in English, but common in many other languages.

Examples[change | edit source]

English[change | edit source]

Diacritics are not used much in modern English. There are two types of diacritics that have become part of everyday English: the dot and the apostrophe. But they are no longer commonly thought of as being diacritical. The apostophe is used to show missing letters (elision, it's to replace it is) and show possession (as in Mike's car).

In most other cases, use of diacritics for native English words is considered old-fashioned (not used anymore). Diaereses (similar to umlauts) can be used on words where two vowels next to each other are pronounced separately (rather than together as a diphthong), like noöne, reëstablished, or coöperate. This method is still used sometimes, depending on the word.[1] Diacritics are sometimes used in loanwords (words of foreign origin), such as naïve, entrée, pâté.[2]

French[change | edit source]

Letter e: common are the acute accent é (rising voice, as in the French word née), grave accent è (lowering voice); élève has (from the left) acute, grave and silent e. The cedilla ç denotes a soft c.

A different principle is illustrated by the circumflex î. This denotes loss of letter: e.g. maistre (Middle French) > maître (modern French). Thus its function is historical.

Spanish[change | edit source]

In Spanish the acute accent simply signals stress, e.g. educación. There the stress is on the last vowel, not on the second to last. Second to last vowel (syllable) is the usual position for stress in spoken Spanish. It is usually not signalled by an accent.

The tilde ñ is pronounced like ny, and counts as a letter in their dictionaries, coming after n.

German[change | edit source]

The umlaut ü in German is pronounced ue, and is less used in modern German. Historical name-spellings should always keep the umlaut if it was used for that name.

Swedish, Norwegian, Danish[change | edit source]

The Scandinavian languages treat the characters with diacritics ä, ö and å as new and separate letters of the alphabet, and sort them after z. Usually ä is sorted as equal to æ (ash) and ö is sorted as equal to ø (o-slash). Also, aa, when used as an alternative spelling to å, is sorted as such. Other letters modified by diacritics are treated as variants of the underlying letter, with the exception that ü is frequently sorted as y.

Non-Roman scripts[change | edit source]

Gen. 1:9 And God said, "Let the waters be collected".
Letters in black, niqqud in red, cantillation in blue

Scripts such are the semitic languages Arabic and Hebrew have a wide variety of diacritics. This is partly because the semitic languages were originally formed without separate letters for vowels, and partly because some of the languages (Arabic in particular) is spoken in a number of dialects.

The diacritics in Hebrew and Arabic are not always used, however.

References[change | edit source]

  1. Thomas Burns McArthur and Roshan McArthur (2005). Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780192806376. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=QMsWFsI0YkIC&pg=PT445.
  2. Dr Lim Chin Lam (11 November 2011). "How foreign is English?". The Star. http://thestar.com.my/english/story.asp?file=/2011/11/11/lifefocus/9861202&sec=lifefocus. Retrieved 17 June 2012.