What's the purpose of a diacritic over or under a consonant in your native language?

  • Yendred

    Senior Member
    Français - France
    In French, we have the "ç", called "cé cédille".
    You can find it in such words as français (French), garçon (boy), leçon (lesson), ça (that), ...

    It allows the "c" letter to sound /s/ before vowels a, o, u. Without the "cédille", the "c" letter sounds /k/ before a, o, u, as in café, décor, recul, ...

    A similar system can be found in Catalan, Occitan and Portuguese, among others.
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    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    In Polish, the consonant diacritics (ć, ł, ń, ś, ź, ż) change the pronunciation: these are different sounds from their unmodified counterparts. The same goes for Czech (č, ď, ň, ř, š, ť, ž), Slovak (č, ď, ĺ, ľ, ň, ŕ, š, ť, ž), and Spanish (ñ).

    Turkish has a couple that work the same way (ç, ş). Additionally, Turkish ğ is a silent letter that is preserved in the orthography for etymological reasons. Since it’s silent, it triggers compensatory vowel lengthening, meaning that the vowel preceding it is lengthened.

    In Arabic, most diacritics can be added to any consonant. These indicate either a vowel sound (بَ، بُ، بِ، بٰ), a vowel sound followed by /n/ (بً، بٌ، بٍ), the absence of a vowel sound (بْ), gemination (بّ), or a combination of gemination and a vowel sound +/- /n/ (بَّ، بُّ، بِّ، بًّ بٌّ، بٍّ). There are a couple more that are more complicated to explain.

    Hebrew diacritics are even more complicated. :eek: There’s a million of them, mostly for etymological reasons.
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    Senior Member
    In Slovenian, we have three letters with diacritics (carons) and they count as separate letters, having different pronunciation as the ‘base’ letters.

    They are Č [tʃ], Š [ʃ] and Ž [ʒ]. The letters without diacritics are C [ts], S [s] and Z [z].

    Due to a large number of people with ex-Yugoslav ancestry, you can also see a lot of Ć [tɕ] and Đ [dʑ] in surnames, but these are not considered Slovenian letters. Because these sounds don’t exist in Slovenian, we normally pronounce them as our native phonemes Č [tʃ] and DŽ [dʒ].


    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    Only two are used in modern Catalan, and one is not used above or under, but in between:

    1) the trenc (¸) or break, used only for the ç (ce trencada 'broken c'), never used before e or i
    2) the punt volat (·) or interpunct, used to distinguish a geminated or long l (l·l: cel·la 'cell', novel·la 'novel') from palatal double l (ll: cella 'eyebrow', novella 'inexperienced')​


    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    The current Roman alphabet for Turkmen distinguishes Ý and Y in a unique way. The one with the diacritic, Ý, is the consonant [j], whereas Y is a vowel, the equivalent of Turkish undotted I.


    Senior Member
    Fortunately we only have two accented consonants, but boy do we use them a lot. We place a small comma under s and t to make an S-comma and a T-comma respectively. We do get fairly nasty when people accidentally use a cédille instead of a comma. :rolleyes:

    s is /s/ as in sink or snake
    ș is /ʃ/ or [sh] as in sherry or shocked

    t is /t/, as in train, tomb
    ț is /t͡s/ as in brats or pizza.

    A long time ago, we used to put a comma under "d" to make it sound "z", but that hasn't been in use for over a hundred years, I'm guessing since we adopted the actual letter "z".


    Senior Member
    It may have been a dz sound instead of a simple z. I don't know whether Romanian had it in the past...
    I honestly don't know. Wikipedia seems to agree with you, in that it represented both?

    There's a funny Facebook page in Romanian by someone who calls himself The Chronicler and writes about current events but using what I assumed (I wouldn't know) was a late 1700s style, and he uses a crossed d for /z/. For example, "đice" for "zice" (from Latin dicere).

    I looked up a couple of translations from Dimitrie Cantemir, published in the 1800s, and one from 1876 uses a regular "d" for what now would certainly be a clearly pronounced /z/: Dumnedieu (Dumnezeu/God), dicendu (zicând/saying).
    The one from 1883, however, uses in the preface a D-comma, with "zi" (day from Latin dies) spelled as "ḑi", and in the translated text a simple "z". I initially thought it was strictly for words that didn't derive from Latin (zimbru = bison), but it wasn't.

    I'm guessing there might have been a time when the /d/ sound for a lot of words transitioned from "d" to "z", so it would make sense that there was a "dz". Except I really have no idea. :(