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|Marks sometimes used as diacritics|
The circumflex ( ˆ ) (often called a "caret", a "hat" or an "uppen") is a diacritic mark used in written Greek, French, Dutch, Frisian, Esperanto, Norwegian, Romanian, Slovak, Vietnamese, Japanese romaji, Welsh, Portuguese, Italian, Afrikaans and other languages, and formerly in Turkish. It received its English name from Latin circumflexus (bent about)--a translation of the Greek περισπωμένη (perispomene).
The circumflex accent was first used in the polytonic orthography of Ancient Greek, where it occurred (subject to certain rules) on the accented syllable of a word, on long vowels, and where there was a rise and then a fall in pitch. Sometimes it took the form of a tilde. Since Modern Greek has a stress accent instead of a pitch accent, this diacritic has been replaced with an acute accent mark in the modern monotonic orthography.
- Akkadian. In the transliteration of this language, the circumflex indicates a long vowel resulting from an aleph contraction.
- French. The circumflex is used on â, ê, î, ô, û, and, in some varieties of the language, such as in Belgian pronunciation, these vowels are often long; fête "party" is longer than fait "fact". See also below.
- Standard Friulian.
- Japanese. In the Kunrei-shiki system of Romanization, and occasionally in the Hepburn system (as a surrogate for the macron).
- Turkish. Until recently, the modern (Latin-based) Turkish alphabet introduced in the time of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk used the circumflex accent to indicate when a vowel was to be pronounced in a way more native (usually by stretching it out somewhat) to Persian and Arabic. Words featuring such an accent, such as kâtib "scribe", ilâhî "divine", or Kâmile (a woman's name) are generally loanwords distinguishable from true Turkish words, and were represented easily in the Arabic script used in the Ottoman Turkish language.
- Welsh. The circumflex is colloquially known as the to bach — "little roof", and it gives a vowel a long sound, for example môr "sea" versus mor "as" (comparative particle).
 Letter extension
- In Bulgarian, when transliterated with the Latin alphabet, the sound represented in Bulgarian by 'â', although called a schwa (misleadingly suggesting an unstressed lax sound), is more accurately described as a mid back unrounded vowel /ɤ/. Unlike English or French, but similar to Romanian and Afrikaans, it can be stressed. The Cyrillic letter 'ъ' (er goljam) is often transliterated as 'â' or sometimes as a 'ŭ', often it is just written as 'a' or 'u'.
- In Esperanto, it is used on ĉ, ĝ, ĥ, ĵ, ŝ. It indicates a completely different consonant from the unaccented form, and is considered a separate letter for purposes of collation. See Esperanto orthography.
- In pinyin romanized Mandarin Chinese, the circumflex occurs only on ê, which is used to represent the sound /ɛ/ in isolation. This sound occurs rarely and is only used as an exclamation.
- In Romanian, the circumflex is used on the vowels â and î to mark the vowel /ɨ/, similar to Russian yery. The names of these accented letters are â din a and î din i, respectively. Note: the letter â appears only in the middle of words; thus, its majuscule version appears only in all-capitals inscriptions.
- In Slovak, the circumflex (vokáň) turns the letter o into a diphthong ô /u̯o/.
 Other regular uses
- In Afrikaans it simply marks a vowel with an irregular pronunciation, without indicating precisely what this pronunciation might be. Examples of circumflex use in Afrikaans are sê (to say), wêreld (world), môre (tomorrow) and brûe (bridges).
- In French, it generally marks the former presence of the letter s in the spelling of the word – for example, hôpital (hospital), forêt (forest), rôtir (to roast), côte (coast), pâte (paste). Since the older spelling is often one on which English words are based, as in the foregoing examples, the circumflex provides a helpful guide to Anglophone readers of French. Fenêtre (window), for instance, is derived from the Latin word fenestra. Certain close homophones are distinguished by the circumflex, for instance cote and côte (the former meaning "level", "mark", the latter meaning "rib" or "coast"). The letter ê is also normally pronounced open, like è. In the usual pronunciations of central and northern France, ô is pronounced close, like eau; in Southern France, no distinction is made between close and open o. See also Use of the circumflex in French.
- Portuguese and Vietnamese use the circumflex accent on certain high vowels, or, more precisely, on vowels pronounced higher than the default low vowels. For example, Vietnamese contrasts phonemically the low vowels a /ɑ/, e /ɛ/, and o /ɔ/ with the high vowels â /ɐ/, ê /e/, and ô /o/. It is not a tonal mark, so that you can for instance have a circumflex and a tonal mark on the same vowel, like in ệ, which appears in the word Việt Nam. In Portuguese, the circumflex further indicates that the vowel is stressed.
- In Turkish, until recently (see above), the circumflex was used to indicate when a preceding consonant ("k" or "g") was to be pronounced as [c] or [ɟ].
- In Welsh, the circumflex, apart from being used as a lengthening sign, is also used on the vowels a, e, i, o, u, w, y to differentiate between other words that have the same spelling.
 Exceptional use
- In English the circumflex, like other diacriticals, is sometimes retained on loanwords that used it in the original language; for example, rôle. In Britain in the eighteenth century--before the cheap penny post and an era in which paper was taxed--the circumflex was used in postal letters to save room in an analogy with the French use. Specifically, the letters "ugh" were replaced when they were silent in the most common words, e.g., "thô" for "though", "thorô" for "thorough", and "brôt" for "brought" — similar to the way in which people today abbreviate words in text messages. This could have led to spelling simplification, but did not.
- In Italian it is used in plurals of singulars ending with -io, thus ending them with a longer i. In modern Italian this is accomplished with a double or just a single i as in varî, varj, varii, vari ("various", plural of vario).
- In Norwegian, it is used, with the exception of loan words, on ô and ê, almost exclusively in the words "fôr" (from Norse fóðr), meaning "animal food", lêr, meaning "skin" (Norse leðr) and "vêr" (Norse veðr), meaning "weather".
 In science
 In typography
A caret is used by editors to indicate on a proof where something should be inserted. It is placed below the line in question for a line-level punctuation mark (e.g., a comma) or above for a higher character (e.g., an apostrophe). The material to be inserted can be placed inside the caret, in the margin, or opposite the caret above the word.
A caret is also used to center characters vertically. In such cases carets are placed both under and above the character facing opposite directions.
 Technical notes
The ISO-8859-1 character encoding includes the letters â, ê, î, ô, û, and their respective capital forms. Dozens more letters with the circumflex are available in Unicode. Unicode also uses the circumflex as a combining character.
 See also
 External links
- Diacritics Project — All you need to design a font with correct accents
- Keyboard Help - Learn how to create world language accent marks and other diacriticals on a computer
|The ISO basic Latin alphabet|
|history • palaeography • derivations • diacritics • punctuation • numerals • Unicode • list of letters|