Breve - Length


The breve sign indicates a short vowel, as opposed to the macron ¯ which indicates long vowels, in academic transcription. It is often used this way in dictionaries and textbooks of Latin, Ancient Greek, Tuareg and other languages. (However, there is a frequent convention of indicating only the long vowels: it is then understood that a vowel with no macron is short.)

In Cyrillic script, a breve is used for Й (a semivowel I). In Belarusian, it is used for both the Cyrillic Ў (semivowel U) and in the Latin (Łacinka) Ŭ. Ў was also used in Cyrillic Uzbek under the Soviet Union. The Moldovan Cyrillic alphabet uses a breve for Ӂ (the equivalent of G before E or I in the Latin script). In Chuvash, a breve is used for Cyrillic letters Ӑ (A-breve) and Ӗ (E-breve). Note that traditional Cyrillic breve differs in shape, being thicker on the edges of the curve and thinner in the middle, from the Latin one. In Latin types, the shape becomes “ears”-like.

In Esperanto, it is used above the u to form a non-syllabic u, similar to the sound of an English w.

In the transcription of Sinhala, the breve over an m or an n indicates a prenasalized consonant; for example, n̆da is used to represent .

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