AskDefine | Define cedilla

Dictionary Definition

cedilla n : a diacritical mark (,) placed below the letter c to indicate that it is pronounced as an s

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

cedilla, from older zedilla, "little zed"

Pronunciation

  • , /səˈdɪlə/, /s@"dIl@/

Noun

  1. In the spelling of Catalan, French and Portuguese and some other languages, a mark placed under the letter c immediately preceding a, o, or u to indicate that it is pronounced /s/ rather than /k/, as in French menaçant and Portuguese almoço, and also used in various other languages to change the sounds of other letters.

Translations

(orthography) mark placed under the letter C

See also

Extensive Definition

A cedilla () is a hook (¸) added under certain consonant letters as a diacritical mark to modify their pronunciation. The tail originated as the bottom half of a miniature cursive "z". The word "cedilla" is the diminutive of the old Spanish name for this letter, ceda, where it was first used. Modern Spanish, however, no longer uses this diacritic. An obsolete spelling of cedilla is cerilla.

Use of the cedilla with the letter C

The most frequent character with cedilla is "ç" ("c" with cedilla, as in façade). It was first used for the sound of the voiceless alveolar affricate /ts/ in old Spanish and stems from the Visigothic form of the letter "z", whose upper loop was lengthened and reinterpreted as a "c", whereas its lower loop became the diminished appendage, the cedilla.
It represents the "soft" sound /s/ where a "c" would normally represent the "hard" sound /k/ (before "a", "o", "u", or at the end of a word), in Basque, Catalan, English, French, Occitan, and Portuguese.
It represents the voiceless postalveolar affricate /tʃ/ (as in English "church") in Albanian, Azerbaijani, Friulian, Kurdish, Tatar, Turkish, and Turkmen language.

Use of the cedilla with the letter S

The symbol "ş" represents the voiceless postalveolar fricative /ʃ/ (as in "show") in several languages:
For example, it is used in Turkish words or names like Eskişehir, Şımarık, Hakan Şükür, Hasan Şaş, Rüştü Reçber etc.
It is also used in some Romanizations of Arabic, Persian, Pashto and Tiberian Hebrew to represent a pharyngealized "s", although the letter "" is more frequently used for this. See Tsade.

Prospective use of the cedilla with the letter T

In 1868, Ambroise Firmin-Didot suggested in his book Observations sur l'orthographe, ou ortografie, française (Observations on French Spelling) that French phonetics could be better regularized by adding a cedilla beneath the letter "t" in some words. For example, it is well-known that in the suffix -tion this letter is usually not pronounced as (or close to) /t/ in either French or English. It has to be distinctly learned that in words such as French diplomatie (but not diplomatique) and English action it is pronounced /s/ and /ʃ/, respectively (but not in active in both languages). A similar effect occurs with other prefixes or within words also in French and English, such as partial where t is pronounced /s/ and /ʃ/ respectively. Firmin-Didot surmised that a new character could be added to French orthography. A similar letter does exist in Romanian (see below).

Use of the cedilla in Latvian

In Latvian, the cedilla is used on the letters "ģ", "ķ", "ļ", "ņ", and historically also "ŗ", to indicate palatalization. Because the lowercase letter "g" has a descender, the cedilla is rotated 180° and placed over the letter. The uppercase equivalent "Ģ" has a normal cedilla. However, from the typographical point of view, these diacritics are commas.

Other diacritical marks confused with the cedilla

Several languages add a diacritical comma (virgula) to various letters, such as , ģ, and ķ. These marks resemble cedillas, and some sources consider them to be cedillas, but they are officially considered commas. This is particularly confusing for characters which can adopt both diacritics: for example, the consonant /ʃ/ is written as ş in Turkish but in Romanian, and Romanian writers will sometimes use the former instead of the latter because of insufficient font or character-set support.
The Polish and Lithuanian letters "ą" and "ę" are not made with the cedilla, but with the unrelated ogonek diacritic; superficially, an ogonek resembles a reversed cedilla (opening to the right instead of the left), but the exact shape is quite different.

See also

For cedilla being the diminutive of ceda, see definition of cedilla, Diccionario de la lengua española, 22nd edition, Real Academia Española (Spanish), which can be seen in context by accessing the site of the Real Academia and searching for cedilla. (This was accessed 27 July 2006. The definition of cedilla in the Oxford English Dictionary, 1970 edition, mentions a former obscure spelling cerilla, gives it as a diminutive of zēta, mentions only use under the letter "c" in French, Portuguese, and (formerly) Spanish. The earliest cited use is in Nebrija's 1517 Reglas de orthographia en la lengua castellana where he cites the 'ç' as a separate letter. It also documents another name used by printers, "ceceril". The etymology of cerilla in the Oxford English Dictionary, 1989 edition (accessed online in 2006), says it originated in Spain "due to interchange of d and r". See Chris Pountain's 2000 work on the history of the Spanish language.

External links

cedilla in Tosk Albanian: Cédille
cedilla in Breton: Lostig
cedilla in Czech: Cedilla
cedilla in German: Cédille
cedilla in Spanish: Cedilla
cedilla in Esperanto: Cedilo
cedilla in French: Cédille
cedilla in Korean: 세디유
cedilla in Italian: Cediglia
cedilla in Hebrew: סדיליה
cedilla in Hungarian: Cedilla
cedilla in Dutch: Cedille
cedilla in Japanese: セディーユ
cedilla in Norwegian: Cedille
cedilla in Polish: Cédille
cedilla in Portuguese: Cedilha
cedilla in Russian: Седиль
cedilla in Slovak: Cédille
cedilla in Swedish: Cedilj
cedilla in Walloon: Cedile
cedilla in Chinese: 尾形符
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