A cedilla (// si-DIL-ə; from Spanish) or cedille (from French cédille, pronounced [sedijə]) is a hook or tail ( ¸ ) added under certain letters as a diacritical mark to modify their pronunciation. In Catalan, French, and Portuguese (called cedilha) it is used only under the c (forming ç), and the entire letter is called, respectively, c trencada (i.e. "broken C"), c cédille, and c cedilhado (or c cedilha, colloquially). It is used to mark vowel nasalization in many languages of sub-Saharan Africa, including Vute from Cameroon.
|In Unicode||U+0327 ̧ COMBINING CEDILLA (diacritic)|
|U+00B8 ¸ CEDILLA (symbol)|
The tail originated in Spain as the bottom half of a miniature cursive z. The word cedilla is the diminutive of the Old Spanish name for this letter, ceda (zeta). Modern Spanish and isolationist Galician no longer use this diacritic (apart from Barça, the nickname of Barcelona Football Team), although it is used in Reintegrationist Galician, Portuguese, Catalan, Occitan, and French, which gives English the alternative spellings of cedille, from French "cédille", and the Portuguese form cedilha. An obsolete spelling of cedilla is cerilla. The earliest use in English cited by the Oxford English Dictionary is a 1599 Spanish-English dictionary and grammar. Chambers' Cyclopædia is cited for the printer-trade variant ceceril in use in 1738. The main use in English is not universal and applies to loan words from French and Portuguese such as façade, limaçon and cachaça (often typed facade, limacon and cachaca because of lack of ç keys on English language keyboards).
With the advent of modernism, the calligraphic nature of the cedilla was thought somewhat jarring on sans-serif typefaces, and so some designers instead substituted a comma design, which could be made bolder and more compatible with the style of the text.[a] This reduces the visual distinction between the cedilla and the diacritical comma.
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" (ꝣ), 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/, the voiceless alveolar sibilant, where a "c" would normally represent the "hard" sound /k/ (before "a", "o", "u", or at the end of a word) in English and in certain Romance languages such as Catalan, Galician, French (where ç appears in the name of the language itself, français), Ligurian, Occitan, and Portuguese. In Occitan, Friulian and Catalan ç can also be found at the beginning of a word (Çubran, ço) or at the end (braç).
It represents the voiceless postalveolar affricate /tʃ/ (as in English "church") in Albanian, Azerbaijani, Crimean Tatar, Friulian, Kurdish, Tatar, Turkish (as in çiçek, çam, çekirdek, Çorum), and Turkmen. It is also sometimes used this way in Manx, to distinguish it from the velar fricative.
The character "ş" represents the voiceless postalveolar fricative /ʃ/ (as in "show") in several languages, including many belonging to the Turkic languages, and included as a separate letter in their alphabets:
In HTML character entity references
ş can be used.
Gagauz uses Ţ (T with cedilla), one of the few languages to do so, and Ş (S with cedilla). Besides being present in some Gagauz orthographies, T with Cedilla also exists in the General Alphabet of Cameroon Languages, in the Kabyle language, in the Manjak and Mankanya languages, and possibly elsewhere.
The Unicode characters for Ţ (T with cedilla) and Ş (S with cedilla) were implemented for Romanian in Windows-1250. In Windows 7, Microsoft corrected the error by replacing T-cedilla with T-comma (Ț) and S-cedilla with S-comma (Ș).
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, the suffix -tion this letter is usually not pronounced as (or close to) /t/ in French, but as /sjɔ̃/. It has to be distinctly learned that in words such as diplomatie (but not diplomatique) it is pronounced /s/. A similar effect occurs with other prefixes or within words. Firmin-Didot surmised that a new character could be added to French orthography. A letter of the same description T-cedilla (majuscule: Ţ, minuscule: ţ) is used in Gagauz. A similar letter, the T-comma (majuscule: Ț, minuscule: ț), does exist in Romanian, but it has a comma accent, not a cedilla.
Comparatively, some consider the diacritics on the palatalized Latvian consonants "ģ", "ķ", "ļ", "ņ", and formerly "ŗ" to be cedillas. Although their Adobe glyph names are commas, their names in the Unicode Standard are "g", "k", "l", "n", and "r" with a cedilla. The letters were introduced to the Unicode standard before 1992, and their names cannot be altered. The uppercase equivalent "Ģ" sometimes has a regular cedilla.
In Marshallese orthography, four letters in Marshallese have cedillas: <ļ m̧ ņ o̧>. In standard printed text they are always cedillas, and their omission or the substitution of comma below and dot below diacritics are nonstandard.
As of 2011[update], many font rendering engines do not display any of these properly, for two reasons:
Because of these font display issues, it is not uncommon to find nonstandard ad hoc substitutes for these letters. The online version of the Marshallese-English Dictionary (the only complete Marshallese dictionary in existence) displays the letters with dot below diacritics, all of which do exist as precombined glyphs in Unicode: "ḷ", "ṃ", "ṇ" and "ọ".[promotional language] The first three exist in the International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration, and "ọ" exists in the Vietnamese alphabet, and both of these systems are supported by the most recent versions of common fonts like Arial, Courier New, Tahoma and Times New Roman. This sidesteps most of the Marshallese text display issues associated with the cedilla, but is still inappropriate for polished standard text.
Vute, a Mambiloid language from Cameroon, uses cedilla for the nasalization of all vowel qualities (cf. the ogonek used in Polish and Navajo for the same purpose). This includes unconventional roman letters that are formalized from the IPA into the official writing system. These include <i̧ ȩ ɨ̧ ə̧ a̧ u̧ o̧ ɔ̧>.
Languages such as Romanian add a comma (virgula) to some letters, such as ș, which looks like a cedilla, but is more precisely a diacritical comma. This is particularly confusing with letters which can take either diacritic: for example, the consonant /ʃ/ is written as "ş" in Turkish but "ș" in Romanian, and Romanian writers will sometimes use the former instead of the latter because of insufficient computer knowledge.
|Cedilla (spacing)||¸||U+00B8||¸ or ¸|
|C with cedilla||Ç
|Ç or Ç|
ç or ç
|C with cedilla and acute accent||Ḉ
|Combining small c with cedilla
(medieval superscript diacritic)
|D with cedilla||Ḑ
|E with cedilla||Ȩ
|E with cedilla and breve||Ḝ
|G with cedilla||Ģ
|H with cedilla||Ḩ
|K with cedilla||Ķ
|L with cedilla||Ļ
|N with cedilla||Ņ
|R with cedilla||Ŗ
|S with cedilla||Ş
|T with cedilla||Ţ