Where do you put the circumflex in /hcircumflex, and caron in /kcaron?

edited March 2023 in Technique and Theory
I’ve seen these two approaches for /hcircumflex and /kcaron: 1) To put the diacritic at the top of the stem (as in Alegreya), or 2) Floating somewhere near to the visual center of the letter (as in Georgia or Palatino). And even mixed solutions, as in Athelas. I am not sure which one is better. What are your thoughts on this?


  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,939
    The h with circumflex is peculiar to Esperanto, and as I recall Esperantists prefer it with the mark optically centered on the full width of the letter, rather than above the stem. 
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,939
    I recall mention, many years ago, of research that indicated centring marks on the width of letters is best for legibility, i.e. that people read diacritics more easily when the mark is in a regular and predictable position relative to the base.

    Nested marks seem problematic as weight increases.
  • I just realise that I have not been consequent with this throughout. The circumflex-h really looks terrible:
    that induces me to check the whole band of ascender letters with accents. Fortunately they are rare. f and l are the only hardship cases where one has no choice. The cicumflex of the h will move downwards next time, most certainly (now it looks like a drunkard).
    the Welsh dot characters are a case of its own … working much better in a traditional style, which is not surprising.

  • Irish, not Welsh.

    yes of course. sorry.
    Gaelic anyway  ;)
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,127
    Although it might seem that in placing lower case accents above the cap line they’ve lost their moorings and are floating away, bear in mind that in running text there will be cap accents at the same height.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,697
    If the ascenders are taller than the caps—as is the case much of the time—then the accents over the ascenders may need to be higher.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,939
    I also make a point of using the flatter cap forms of above marks over lowercase ascenders. Among the oddities shown in Cristobál’s illustration is the inconsistency of mark height in Alegreya and Athelas.
  • John: nested diacritics is a very good name. It's new for me. 

    Nick: I dislike the centered diacritics not because how high they are, but because this set up lets an uneven, big blank area at right.

    Thomas: another good point, I need to test these encounters a bit more.

    John: I got the same suggestion from Denis Jacquerye some time ago and it's far better.

    Andreas: is there something that does not look good in Andron? 😉
  • Of course, this area already exists, but it gets demarcated and highlighted with the diacritic. And, albeit you are objectively correct, I can't find the result good. Anyway, the ĥ is like the y with ogonek: no solution is really good.
  • The placement near the top of the ascender is easier to read to me. I find other placements very distracting.
  • While we're on the subject, any clues on ḣ? I'm trying to work out what to do with this Noto issue.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,697
    The t with wedge caron, where the caron runs into the top of the t, is particularly troubling.
  • edited March 2023
    Thank you all for your insights. It seems that there are different opinions on the matter.
  • edited December 2023
    Apparently for Laz, the original intention of Wolfgang Feurstein (Fahri Lazoğlu) was to use the breve as in the Turkish letter ğ as it is likely to be familiar to Laz speakers in Turkey. But the caron has been used in several documents anyway. Zeynep Özüm Ak wrote a thesis on the topic: Understanding the problems of the support of an endangered language in typography : Proposal of a typeface that supports the Laz language, Escola Superior de Arte e Design de Matosinhos, 2018.
    The relevant issue of where to put top diacritics on letters with ascenders is discussed in some aspects and one of the solutions to keep the diacritic height consistent, beside placing it next to the ascender instead of on top, is to change the letterform and cut the ascender.
  • The letter ĥ is also used in Oniyan (Bassari) in Senegal following the 2005-987 Oniyan spelling decree. Some authors use h̃ instead as it represents a nasalized voiced fricative consonant [ɣ̃], h being voiced fricative [ɣ].

    Besides being used in Skolt Sami with the wedge caron above or nested on k, the letter ǩ is used in Laz with a caron shaped like a prime or an acute and with a nested position, somewhat like the caron on d, l, t in Central European languages like Czech or Slovakian. For example in Lazuri.com material, Lazenstitu.com material, in the journal Gazete Noğa or in school manuals like Lazuri 5 published by the Turkish government in 2015. Interestingly they use ť as t with wedge caron.

    This is not Turkish language. It is the language of the ethnic group Laz. The Turkish alphabet of Türkiye is based on the Latin alphabet, and they use additional letters such as ç, ı, ğ, ş, ü, ö, ğ, İ. In Azerbaijani, there is a letter 'ə' in addition to what I wrote.
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