Diacritic - Types


Among the types of diacritic used in alphabets based on the Latin script are:

  • accent marks (thus called because the acute, the grave and the circumflex accent were originally used to indicate different types of pitch accents, in the polytonic transcription of Greek)
    • ◌́acute accent (Latin apex)
    • ◌̀ – grave accent
    • ◌̂ – circumflex accent
    • ◌̌ – caron, inverted circumflex, (Czech háček)
    • ◌̋ – double acute accent
    • ◌̏ – double grave accent
  • dots
    • ◌̇dot (Indic anusvara)
    • ◌̣ – a dot below is used in Rheinische Dokumenta
    • ◌·◌ – Interpunct
    • tittle, the dot used by default in the modern lowercase form of the Latin letters "i" and "j"
    • ◌̈ – trema, diaeresis, or umlaut sign
    • ◌ː – colon, used in the International Phonetic Alphabet to mark long vowels.
  • ring
    • ◌̊ – ring
  • vertical line
    • ◌̩ – a vertical line below is used in Rheinische Dokumenta as a schwa mark
  • macron or horizontal line
    • ◌̄ – macron
    • ◌̱ – macron below
  • overlays
    • ◌⃓ – bar through the basic letter
    • ◌̷ – slash through the basic letter
    • ◌̵ – stroke through the basic letter
  • curves
    • ◌̆ – breve
    • ◌͗ – sicilicus, a palaeographic diacritic similar to a caron or breve
    • ◌̃ – tilde
    • ◌҃ – titlo
  • curls above
    • ◌̓ – apostrophe
    • ◌̉ – hook (Vietnamese dấu hỏi)
    • ◌̛ – horn (Vietnamese dấu móc)
  • curls below
    • ◌̦ – comma
    • ◌̧ – cedilla
    • ◌̡ ◌̢ – hook, sometimes also attached above
    • ◌̨ – ogonek
  • double marks (over or under two base characters)
    • ◌͝◌ – double breve
    • ◌͡◌ – ligature tie
    • ◌᷍◌ – double circumflex
    • ◌͞◌ – double macron
    • ◌͠◌ – double tilde

The tilde, dot, comma, titlo, apostrophe, bar, and colon are sometimes diacritical marks, but also have other uses.

Not all diacritics occur adjacent to the letter they modify. In the Wali language of Ghana, for example, an apostrophe indicates a change of vowel quality, but occurs at the beginning of the word, as in the dialects ’Bulengee and ’Dolimi. Because of vowel harmony, all vowels in a word are affected, so the scope of the diacritic is the entire word. In abugida scripts, like those used to write Hindi and Thai, diacritics indicate vowels, and may occur above, below, before, after, or around the consonant letter they modify.

The dot on the letter i of the Latin alphabet originated as a diacritic to clearly distinguish i from the vertical strokes of the adjacent letters. It first appeared in the sequence ii (as in ingeníí) in Latin manuscripts of the 11th century, then spread to i adjacent to m, n, u, and later spread to all lower-case i. The j, which separated from the i later, inherited the "dot". The shape of the diacritic developed from initially resembling today's acute accent to a long flourish by the 15th century. With the advent of Roman type it was reduced to the round dot we have today.

Read more about this topic:  Diacritic

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