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Diacritic is primarily an adjective, though sometimes used as a noun, whereas diacritical is only ever an adjective.

In some cases, letters are used as "in-line diacritics", with the same function as ancillary glyphs, in that they modify the sound of the letter preceding them, as in the case of the "h" in the English pronunciation of "sh" and "th".

The shape of the diacritic developed from initially resembling today's acute accent to a long flourish by the 15th century.

With the advent of Roman type it was reduced to the round dot we have today.

Languages that treat accented letters as variants of the underlying letter usually alphabetize words with such symbols immediately after similar unmarked words. in phone books or in author catalogues in libraries), umlauts are often treated as combinations of the vowel with a suffixed e; Austrian phone books now treat characters with umlauts as separate letters (immediately following the underlying vowel).

For instance, in German where two words differ only by an umlaut, the word without it is sorted first in German dictionaries (e.g. In Spanish, the grapheme ñ is considered a new letter different from n and collated between n and o, as it denotes a different sound from that of a plain n.

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