Diacritical Marks

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Diacritical Marks


(also called diacritics), various marks that are located above, below, and less frequently, on the line; used in letter types of writing for changing or specifying the value of individual signs. The following types of diacritical marks are differentiated: marks that give a letter a new value, such as Й, ë, ä, ă, Θ, ƒ and Љ in the alphabets of the peoples of the USSR based on the Russian alphabet and å, θ, ü, š, ç, ¯n, and ł in the Latin alphabet, and marks designating variants of a sound, such as è, é and ê in French, which also differentiate meaning. Some diacritical marks indicate that the letter should be read separately (for example, French ï). Prosodic diacritical marks indicate length or shortness, stress and its types, and tones (in Vietnamese and some Latin writing systems for Chinese).

Diacritical marks play a large role in certain transcription systems and in plans for international alphabets. The same diacritical marks have a different meaning in different national writing systems. There is a particularly large number of diacritical marks in the French, Portuguese, Polish, Czech, Latvian, and Lithuanian writing systems based on the Latin alphabet and in the writing systems of the peoples of the USSR based on the Russian alphabet (in which the purpose of the diacritical marks has been standardized wherever possible). Diacritical marks are also used in Arabic (to differentiate the letters shin and sin), in writing systems created on the basis of Arabic script (for example, Persian), and in the Indie system of writing (where they indicate a nasal consonant and also differentiate the length and shortness of [u] and [i]).

Some scholars also treat as diacritical marks the system of vocalization in the Semitic types of writing (for example, in Arabic and Hebraic writing), in which vowel sounds are designated by dots or dashes under consonants.


Diringer, D. Alfavit. Moscow, 1963. (Translated from English.)
Istrin, V. A. Razvitie pis’ma. Moscow, 1961.
Giliarevskii, R. S., and V. S. Grivnin. Opredelitel’ iazykov mira po pis’mennostiam, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1964.
Friedrich, J. Geschichte der Schrift. Heidelberg, 1966.
Gelb, I. J. A Study of Writing. Chicago, 1963.


References in periodicals archive ?
However, there is insufficient information on the appearance of rare characters not present in the Western cultures, especially Eastern European letters composed of the body and diacritical marks.
Diacritical marks, which include accent marks, tildes, umlauts and other notations, help to distinguish one letter from another and aid in pronunciation.
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193) But in most instances the omission in judicial opinions of the diacritical marks from proper names is of no material consequence, often with the reader being none the wiser.
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Transliteration of non-European languages lacks diacritical marks and is not always consistent; the more than sixty illustrations, while providing a respectable cross-section of Muslim visual art and architecture, unfortunately all appear only in gray-scale reproduction.
Van Brabant takes note of errors in the diacritical marks of foreign words, which are regrettable.
Editor's Note: Inclusion of the appropriate diacritical marks used in modern Vietnamese proved impossible for the printing of this issue.
In 1532 the royal printer Robert Estienne produced the first book, a French grammar, with the French diacritical marks (many more than are in use today).
The entries which comprise most of the Dictionary's pages are clearly laid out and easily read, with an excellent use of capitals and bold print to highlight important aspects and diacritical marks to direct cross-references.
when sending telexes between countries, the diacritical marks can't be printed, affecting the correct translation of information.
235) which hews more closely to Hopkins' own diacritical marks.