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Ǎ ǎ
Č č
Ď ď
Ě ě
Ǧ ǧ
Ȟ ȟ
Ǐ ǐ
Ǩ ǩ
Ľ ľ
Ň ň
Ǒ ǒ
Ř ř
Š š
Ť ť
Ǔ ǔ
Ǚ ǚ
Ž ž
Ǯ ǯ

A caron ( ˇ ) or haček (English pronunciation: /ˈhɑːtʃɛk/) (from Czech háček, pronounced [ˈɦaːtʃɛk]), also known as a wedge, inverted circumflex, inverted hat, is a diacritic placed over certain letters to indicate present or historical palatalization, iotation, or postalveolar pronunciation in the orthography of some Baltic, Slavic, Finno-Lappic, and other languages.

It looks similar to a breve, but has a sharp tip, like an inverted circumflex (ˆ), while a breve is rounded. Compare the caron: Ǎ ǎ Ě ě Ǐ ǐ Ǒ ǒ Ǔ ǔ to the breve: Ă ă Ĕ ĕ Ĭ ĭ Ŏ ŏ Ŭ ŭ.

The left (downward) stroke is usually thicker than the right (upward) stroke in serif typefaces.

The caron is also used as a symbol or modifier in mathematics.



Usage differs as to the name of this diacritic. In typography, the term "caron" seems to be more popular. In linguistics, the tendency is to use haček (with no long mark), probably due to the relative popularity of Czech in Slavic programs. Pullum and Ladusaw's Phonetic Symbol Guide (Chicago, 1996) uses the term wedge.

The term caron is used in the official names of Unicode characters (e.g., "Latin capital letter Z with caron"). Its earliest known use was in computing references in the mid-1980s.[1] Its actual origin remains obscure, but some have suggested that it may derive from a fusion of caret and macron. Though this may be folk etymology, it is plausible, particularly in the absence of other suggestions.

The name haček (with no long mark) appears in most English dictionaries; the Oxford English Dictionary gives its earliest citation as 1953. In Czech, háček means "small hook", the diminutive form of hák. The Czech plural form is háčky.

In Slovak it is called mäkčeň (i.e. "softener" or "palatalization mark"), in Slovenian strešica ("little roof") or kljukica ("little hook"), in Croatian and Serbian kvaka or kvačica (also "small hook"), in Lithuanian paukščiukas ("little bird"), katus ("roof") in Estonian, hattu ("hat") in Finnish, and ičášleče ("wedge") in Lakota (a Native American language).


The caron evolved from the dot above diacritic, which was introduced into Czech orthography (along with the acute accent) by Jan Hus in his De Ortographia Bohemica (1412). The original form still exists in Polish ż.


For the fricatives š [ʃ], ž [ʒ], and the affricate č [tʃ] only, the caron is used in the Finno-Lappic languages which use the Latin alphabet, such as Estonian, Finnish, Karelian and some Sami languages. In Finnish and Estonian, it is limited to transcribing foreign names and loanwords (albeit common loanwords such as šekki 'cheque'); the sounds (and letters) are native and common in Karelian and Sami.

The caron is also used in the Romany alphabet. The Faggin-Nazzi writing system for the Friulian language makes use of the caron over the letters c, g, and s.[2]

The caron is also often used as a diacritical mark on consonants for romanization of text from non-Latin writing systems, particularly in the scientific transliteration of Slavic languages. Philologists—and the standard Finnish orthography—often prefer using it to express the sounds that in English require a digraph (sh, ch, and zh) because most Slavic languages use only one character to spell these sounds (the key exceptions are Polish sz and cz). Its use for this purpose can even be found in America, because certain atlases use it in romanization of foreign place names. On the typographical side, Š/š and Ž/ž are likely the easiest among non-Western European diacritic characters to adopt for Westerners because the two are part of the Windows-1252 character encoding.

It is also used as an accent mark, that is, to indicate a change in the pronunciation of a vowel. The main example is in Pinyin for Chinese, where it represents a falling-rising tone. It is used in transliterations of Thai to indicate a rising tone.

The caron represents a rising tone in the International Phonetic Alphabet. It is used in Americanist phonetic notation as a diacritic to indicate various types of pronunciation.

Writing and printing carons

In printed text, the caron combined with certain letters (lower-case ť, ď, ľ, and upper-case Ľ) is reduced to a small stroke. This only rarely happens in handwritten text. Although the stroke looks similar to an apostrophe, there is a significant difference in kerning. Using apostrophe in place of a caron looks very unprofessional though it can be found on goods produced in foreign countries and imported to Slovakia or the Czech Republic (compare t' to ť, L'ahko to Ľahko). (Apostrophes appearing as palatalization marks in some Finnic languages, such as Võro and Karelian, are not forms of caron either.) Foreigners also sometimes mistake the caron for the acute accent (compare Ĺ to Ľ, ĺ to ľ).

List of letters

A complete list of Czech and Slovak letters and digraphs with the háček/caron:

  • Č/č (pronounced [tʃ] — similar to 'ch' in cheap, e.g. Československo which means Czechoslovakia)
  • Š/š (pronounced [ʃ] — similar to 'sh' in she, e.g. in Škoda About this sound listen )
  • Ž/ž (pronounced [ʒ] — similar to 's' in treasure, e.g. žal which means "sorrow")
  • Ř/ř (only in Czech: special fricative trill [r̝], transcribed as [ɼ] in pre-1989 IPA, pronounced roughly as a compound of trilled [r] and [ʒ], e.g. Antonín Dvořák About this sound listen )
  • Ď/ď, Ť/ť, Ň/ň (palatals, pronounced [ɟ], [c], [ɲ], slightly different from palatalized consonants as found in Russian): Ďábel a sťatý kůň which means "The Devil and a beheaded horse")
  • Ľ/ľ (only in Slovak: pronounced as palatal [ʎ]: podnikateľ means "businessman")
  • DŽ/Dž/dž (considered a single letter in Slovak. pronounced [dʒ] džungľa means "jungle" - almost identical to the "j" sound in jungle and the "g" sound in genius. It is somewhat rare.)
  • Ě/ě (only in Czech) indicates mostly palatalization of preceding consonant: "dě", "tě", "ně" is pronounced [ɟɛ], [cɛ], [ɲɛ]; but is [mɲɛ], and "bě", "pě", "vě", "fě" are [bjɛ, pjɛ, vjɛ, fjɛ].

A complete list of Lower Sorbian and Upper Sorbian letters and digraphs with the háček/caron:

  • Č/č (pronounced [tʃ]) — similar to 'ch' in cheap
  • Š/š (pronounced [ʃ]) — similar to 'sh' in she
  • Ž/ž (pronounced [ʒ]) — similar to 's' in treasure
  • Ř/ř (only in Upper Sorbian: pronounced [ʃ]) - similar to 'sh' in she
  • Tř/tř (digraph, only in Upper Sorbian) - soft [ts] sound
  • Ě/ě (pronounced [e]) - similar to 'e' in bed

Of the Baltic and Slavic languages, Serbian (Latin alphabet), Croatian, Bosnian, Slovenian, Latvian and Lithuanian use Č/č, Š/š and Ž/ž. The digraph Dž/dž is also used in these languages, but only considered a separate letter in Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian. The Belarusian Lacinka alphabet also contains the digraph (as a separate letter), and Latin transctiptions of Bulgarian and Macedonian may also use them at times for transcription of the letter-combination ДЖ (Bulgarian) and the letter Џ (Macedonian).

Of the Finno-Ugric languages, Estonian (and transcriptions to Finnish) use Š/š and Ž/ž, and Karelian and some Sami languages use Č/č, Š/š and Ž/ž — Dž is not a separate letter. (Skolt Sami has more, see below.) Č is present because it may be phonemically geminate: in Karelian, the phoneme 'čč' is found, and is distinct from 'č', which is not the case in Finnish or Estonian, where only one length is recognized for 'tš'. (Incidentally, in transcriptions, the Finnish orthography has to employ complicated notations like mettšä or even the mettshä to express Karelian meččä.) On some Finnish keyboards, it is possible to write these letters by typing s or z while holding right Alt key or AltGr key.

Notice that these are not palatalized, but postalveolar consonants. For example, Estonian Nissi (palatalized) is distinct from nišši (postalveolar). Palatalization is typically ignored in spelling, but some Karelian and Võro orthographies use an apostrophe (') or an acute accent (´). In Finnish and Estonian, š and ž (and in Estonian, very rarely č) appear in loanwords and foreign proper names only and, when not available, can be substituted with 'h', e.g., 'sh' for 'š', in print.

Skolt Sami uses Ʒ/ʒ (ezh) to mark the alveolar affricate [dz], thus Ǯ/ǯ (ezh-caron or edzh (edge)) marks the postalveolar affricate [dʒ]. In addition to Č, Š, Ž and Ǯ, Skolt Sami also uses the caron – inconsistently – to mark the palatal stops Ǧ [ɟ] and Ǩ [c]. More often than not, these are geminated, e.g., vuäǯǯad "to get".

Finnish Romani uses ȟ.

Lakota uses Č/č, Š/š, Ž/ž, Ǧ/ǧ (voiced post-velar fricative) and Ȟ/ȟ (plain post-velar fricative).

Pashto uses Ď/ď, Ň/ň, Ř/ř, Š/š, Ť/ť and Ž/ž to indicate retroflex consonants.

The DIN 31635 standard for transliteration of Arabic uses Ǧ/ǧ to represent the letter ج ǧīm on account of the inconsistent pronunciation of J in European languages, the variable pronunciation of the letter of the letter in educated Arabic, and the desire of the DIN committee to have a one-to-one correspondence of Arabic to Latin letters in their system.

Other uses

The caron is also used in Mandarin Chinese pinyin romanization and orthographies of several other tonal languages to indicate the "falling-rising" tone (third tone in Mandarin). The caron can be placed over the vowels ǎ, ě, ǐ, ǒ, ǔ, ǚ. The alternatives to caron are breve or number 3 after the syllable, e.g.: hǎo = hao3.

The caron is used in the New Transliteration System of D'ni in the symbol š to represent the sound [ʃ] ("sh").

Many alphabets of African languages use the caron for marking rising tone as in the African reference alphabet.

The characters Ě/ě are a part of the Unicode Latin Extended-A set because they occur in Czech, while the rest are in Latin Extended-B, which often causes an inconsistent appearance.



For legacy reasons most letters which can carry carons exist as precomposed characters in Unicode, but a caron can also be added to any letter by using the combining character U+030C COMBINING CARON, for example: b̌ q̌ J̌.


In TeX, a caron can be inserted using the control sequence \v in text, or \check in mathematics. For example:

$\check{x}$ \check{x}

Special arrangement is necessary to get the alternate versions of the háček above l, d and t, such as (in LaTeX) \usepackage[T1]{fontenc}, or \usepackage[Czech]{babel}.


On Mac OS X's U.S. Extended and Irish Extended keyboard layouts, the caron is typed by pressing option+v+(letter).

Microsoft Word

In Microsoft Word, you can usually find letters with carons by clicking Insert → Symbol → Symbols. Select "(normal text)".

XFree86 and X.Org

In recent versions of XFree86/X.Org servers, letters with carons can be typed as a compose sequence <compose> c <letter>, e.g. pressing compose-key c e yields the letter ě.

See also


The Basic modern Latin alphabet
Aa Bb Cc Dd Ee Ff Gg Hh Ii Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp Qq Rr Ss Tt Uu Vv Ww Xx Yy Zz
Letters using caron sign

history palaeography derivations diacritics punctuation numerals Unicode list of letters ISO/IEC 646


Basic Latin alphabet

L is the twelfth letter of the basic modern Latin alphabet. Its name in English is spelled el or occasionally ell (pronounced /ɛl/).[1]



The letter L is derived from the Phoenician crook or goad which stood for /l/. This originally may have been based on an Egyptian hieroglyph that was adapted by Semites for alphabetic purposes. The Greek letter Lambda Λ (upper case) or λ (lower case), as well as the equivalent Etruscan and Latin letters, represent the same sound as the Semitic letter.

Egyptian hieroglyph `wt Proto-Semitic L Phoenician L Etruscan L Greek Lambda


In English, L can have several values, depending on whether it occurs before or after a vowel. The alveolar lateral approximant (the sound which the IPA uses the lowercase [l] to represent) occurs before a vowel, as in lip or please, while the velarized alveolar lateral approximant (IPA [ɫ]) occurs in bell and milk (see Dark L). This velarization does not occur in many European languages that use L; it is also a factor making the pronunciation of L difficult for users of languages that either lack, or have different values, for L, such as Japanese or some southern dialects of Chinese.

L can occur before almost any plosive, fricative, or affricate in English. Common digraphs include LL, which has a value identical to L in English, but has the separate value voiceless alveolar lateral fricative (IPA /ɬ/) in Welsh, where it can appear in an initial position.

A palatal lateral approximant or palatal L (IPA /ʎ/) occurs in many languages, and is represented by GL in Italian, LL in Spanish and Catalan, LH in Portuguese, and Ļ in Latvian.

In English writing, L is often silent in such words as walk or could (its presence modifies other letters' sounds, i.e. 'wak' might be more likely to be pronounced such that it would rhyme with 'back').

Codes for computing

Alternative representations of L
NATO phonetic Morse code
Lima ·–··
Signal flag Flag semaphore Braille

In Unicode the capital L is codepoint U+004C and the lowercase l is U+006C. In some fonts, a lowercase l may be difficult to distinguish from a 1(one) or an uppercase letter I(i). A more stylized version based on the handwritten ℓ is sometimes used - this is often used as a suffix on a number to represent litres. Its codepoint is U+2113 and its numeric character reference is "&#8467;". Capital I(i) can also be hard to distinguish from a lowercase l(L), as many fonts use a vertical bar for both of these characters. In recent times, many new fonts have curved the lowercase form to the right and is increasingly common, especially on European road signs and advertisements.

The ASCII code for capital L is 76 and for lowercase l is 108; or in binary 01001100 and 01101100, correspondingly.

The EBCDIC code for capital L is 211 and for lowercase l is 147.

The numeric character references in HTML and XML are "&#76;" and "&#108;" for upper and lower case respectively.

See also


  1. "L" Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989) Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged. (1993); "el", "ell", op. cit.
The Basic modern Latin alphabet
Aa Bb Cc Dd Ee Ff Gg Hh Ii Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp Qq Rr Ss Tt Uu Vv Ww Xx Yy Zz
Letter L with diacritics
Two-letter combinations
Letter-digit & Digit-letter combinations
   L0L1L2L3L4L5L6L7L8L9    0L1L2L3L4L5L6L7L8L9L   

history palaeography derivations diacritics punctuation numerals Unicode list of letters ISO/IEC 646

Simple English

The Latin alphabet
Aa Bb Cc Dd
Ee Ff Gg Hh Ii Jj
Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp
Qq Rr Ss Tt Uu Vv
Ww Xx Yy Zz

L is the twelfth (number 12) letter in the English alphabet.

Meanings for L

  • For clothing, L sometimes means "large size".
  • In Roman numerals, L means the number fifty.
  • The city of Chicago, Illinois has an elevated train called the "Chicago 'L'".
  • L is also the first letter that the famous Luke Bynt ever said
  • A character from the manga and anime Death Note.
  • In Wheel of Fortune, L is one of the six letters given to any contestant participating in the "Bonus Round."
  • L is the symbol for litre, a unit of volume.

Citable sentences

Up to date as of December 22, 2010

Here are sentences from other pages on Town, which are similar to those in the above article.

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