Diacritical Marks

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical.

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 ?
There are some diacritical marks in French and especially in German, but Eastern Europe beats these two by many lengths.
Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate punctuation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.
Besides characters and symbols, they include characters with diacritical marks from different scripts (i.
This examrle demonstrates the script-dependent or writing -system dependent nature of rendering combining diacritical marks.
A number of minor issues detract from the overall quality of the book: diacritical marks are used inconsistently throughout the text (even among the names of mediators Ambassador Domicio da Gama [sic] of Brazil and Minister Eduardo Suarez Mujica of Chile), and the map of Mexico that highlights the State of Morelos seems an odd choice.
Finally, inexplicable are misplaced or missing diacritical marks in Slavic surnames such as Tomes (p.
This is followed by practical tips and information, a glossary of Sanskrit words though without any diacritical marks, and some suggestions for further reading.
Washington, Nov 19 (ANI): The first Islamic inscription, dating back to 1,300 years, may help solve a mystery about the Qur'an that has vexed historians for hundreds of years, namely the reason behind the text being seemingly written without diacritical marks.
The present paper aims to give a view on suffix nomenclature versus prefix nomenclature, to list mineral names with correct diacritical marks, and to correct mineral names consisting of two words or having superfluous hyphens and diacritical marks.
Furthermore, tone is reflected, in one way or another, in the orthography--in Chinese, in the choice of characters, and in Attic Greek, with diacritical marks.
As well as imposing all those diacritical marks on us and hiding the general reader's scant handful of familiar landmarks behind such forbidding corrections as "Malazgirt," Finkel even deprives us of those dimly remembered cognomens for the more egregious of the Sultans: Ibrahim the Mad, Selim the Grim ("known to posterity as 'Yavuz,' 'the Stern,'" Ms.
European countries use a 256-character set, which can accommodate Latin figures and diacritical marks in a variety of languages including French, German, Spanish, and Italian.