Diacritical marks are glyphs added to a letter, present in many languages, that have different uses.
Diacritical marks are glyphs added to a letter, present in many languages.
Some diacritical marks, such as the acute "´" and grave "`", are often called accents. Diacritical marks may appear above or below a letter, or in some other position such as within the letter or between two letters.
The main use of diacritical marks in the Latin script is to change the sound-values of the letters to which they are added. Examples from English are the diaereses in naïve and Noël, which show that the vowel with the diaeresis mark is pronounced separately from the preceding vowel.
The acute and grave accents, which can indicate that a final vowel is to be pronounced, as in
saké and poetic
breathèd, and the cedilla under the "c" in the borrowed French word
façade, which shows it is pronounced "s" rather than "k". In other Latin alphabets, they may distinguish between homonyms, such as the French
là ("there") versus
la ("the"), which are both pronounced "la".
In Gaelic type, a dot over a consonant indicates lenition of the consonant in question.
In orthography and collation, a letter modified by a diacritic may be treated either as a new, distinct letter or as a letter–diacritic combination. This varies from language to language, and may vary from case to case within a language.