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Subject Linguistics

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631214816.1999.x


[Gk δlακρlτlκ ς ‘that distinguishes’] A mark added to a basic letter to alter its pronunciation, for example <a, á, à, â, ä, å, ǎ, ā, a̧, ă, ã>. Diacritics are widely used to augment the Latin alphabet. Among the more common diacritics are accent marks <‘,’,^> as used in French, the cedilla <,> as in French and Portuguese, the Spanish tilde <˜>, the diaeresis or umlaut sign <¨> as in German, and the háček or wedge <˘> and under-hook <¸>, both used in several Slavic orthographies. Some diacritics are superimposed upon letters, such as the Polish slashed L<Ł ł>. Barred letters with a hyphen or short dash through the body of the letter as in are also occasionally used. Certain diacritics, especially those found on a standard typewriter, serve a variety of different functions. For example, the accent marks mentioned above are used both for pitch accent (French) and as tone marks (Chinese). The macron <¯> is used as a marker of vowel length (Classical Latin) or to indicate a high flat tone (Chinese). By contrast, the breve sign <ˇ> is used as a pedagogical aid to mark short Vs in Classical Latin. In other alphabets and writing systems, diacritics are also common. In addition to accents, Classical Greek had two breathing marks known by their Latin names spiritus asper <‘> for rough breathing and spiritus lenis ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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