Wondering what the languages have the most bells and whistles added to latin characters. For example, pinyin has ǘ which has the umlaut and the acute accent (just 2 additions). But I'm wondering if there is anything that adds more to this, such as umlaut, acute accent, and tone (I understand in pinyin the acute accent is for tone). Or some other combination of things.

The only way I could see that working is like this: ǘ̖. But maybe it could even get as complicated as this: ṳ̖̈́. Or perhaps even more complicated than that. Wondering if there are any examples of such a thing in real languages. It would count, too, to have "extra features" on the base Latin letters such as the h-bar like ħ or the l-with-curly ɬ. Like this has 5 extra features: ɬ̤̖̈́. Not very readable but just an example.

Another example is ḏ̣ from here, but that's just 2 modifications as well.

If not, wondering what some other complicated examples like the pinyin one might be. Trying to figure out how complex transliteration gets.

  • This doesn't seem to pertain to #phonetic-symbols since these, well, aren't phonetic symbols. This is an #orthography question surely?
    – Draconis
    Commented Sep 22, 2018 at 21:10
  • I'm not sure, sorry about that, will change it.
    – Lance
    Commented Sep 22, 2018 at 21:11

1 Answer 1


Examples of three diacritics on a letter arise in phonemic transcriptions of languages when you have e.g. nasalization plus tone plus something else like breathiness, creakiness, or some place-or-articulation property that is notated with a diacritic (for example the centralization diacritic in Vietnamese cf. ơ or the tense-lax diacritic of Yoruba as in ẹ – though these may be implemented as unitary characters in Unicode, rather than sequences). Taa would be a candidate for such a language, since it has some really exotic vowel sounds. However, the orthography of that language abjures diacritics, and they use sequences like "ah", "aq", "aqh", "ô'hõ". In general, official adopted orthographies avoid the piling up of diacritics. You can find three-component letters in Ancient Greek, for example ᾤ, ᾆ. However, this does not represent the writing practices of Ancient Greeks, and it is more like the case where a linguist might use a pile of diacritics in a transcription. If you are looking for a generally-adopted Latin-based orthograpic system, I think you are limited to 2, as exemplified by Vietnamese.

  • Depends what you mean by "the Ancient Greeks": the polytonic orthography (with the stacking of diacritics) was introduced in the third century BC.
    – Draconis
    Commented Sep 23, 2018 at 0:40
  • I'll have to look deeper I guess. My understanding is that the iota subscript was a much later addition, without which you don't get three diacritics.
    – user6726
    Commented Sep 23, 2018 at 1:11
  • You're right—I checked again and the iota subscript started in the 12th century. You could use the trēma, but that never appears on the first letter in the word.
    – Draconis
    Commented Sep 23, 2018 at 2:54

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