Việt Type 2nd ed. Trương Support
Vietnamese Typography Second Edition Donny Trương Support This Book

Tone Marks

Vietnamese is a tonal language. Accents are used to denote six distinctive tones: “level” (ngang), “acute-angry” (sắc), “grave-lowering” (huyền), “smooth-rising” hỏi, “chesty-raised” (ngã), and “chesty-heavy” (nặng). In writing, one tone is represented as unmarked (a), four are indicated with diacritics marked on a vowel (á, à, , and ã), and one is marked with a dot under a vowel (). Let’s break down these individual tone marks.

Unmarked

An unmarked tone (ngang) has no accent. Its pitch ranges from mid to high-mid.

Acute

An acute (dấu sắc) is a forward-slash accent placed on vowels: á, é, í, ó, ú, and ý. An acute, which starts from a narrow bottom and ends with a wide top, denotes a high rising pitch. It should rise slightly toward the right of the base character (á) without falling off. When combined, it must be positioned clearly from another mark (, , ế, , , or ).

á é í ó ú ý á é í ó ú ý á é í ó ú ý á é í ó ú ý ắ ấ ế ố ớ ứ ắ ấ ế ố ớ ứ ắ ấ ế ố ớ ứ ắ ấ ế ố ớ ứ

Grave

A grave (dấu huyền) is a backward-slash accent placed on vowels: à, è, ì, ò, ù, and . A grave, which starts from a wide top and ends with a narrow bottom, denotes a low pitch. It should rise slightly toward the left of the base character (à) without falling off. When combined, it must be positioned clearly from another mark (, , , , , or ).

à è ì ò ù ỳ à è ì ò ù ỳ à è ì ò ù ỳ à è ì ò ù ỳ ằ ầ ề ồ ờ ừ ằ ầ ề ồ ờ ừ ằ ầ ề ồ ờ ừ ằ ầ ề ồ ờ ừ
Alright, designed by Jackson Showalter-Cavanaugh

Hook above

A hook above (dấu hỏi) is a tone mark that resembles a dotless question mark placed on vowels: , , , , , and . It denotes a mid-low dropping pitch. When combined, it must be positioned clearly from another mark (, , , , , or ).

ả ẻ ỉ ỏ ủ ỷ ả ẻ ỉ ỏ ủ ỷ ả ẻ ỉ ỏ ủ ỷ ả ẻ ỉ ỏ ủ ỷ ẳ ẩ ể ổ ở ử ẳ ẩ ể ổ ở ử ẳ ẩ ể ổ ở ử ẳ ẩ ể ổ ở ử
Alegreya, designed by Juan Pablo del Peral

Tilde

A tilde (dấu ngã) is an accent placed on vowels: ã, , ĩ, õ, ũ, or . It denotes a high rising pitch. When combined, it must be positioned clearly from another mark (, , , , , or ).

ã ẽ ĩ õ ũ ỹ ã ẽ ĩ õ ũ ỹ ã ẽ ĩ õ ũ ỹ ã ẽ ĩ õ ũ ỹ ẵ ẫ ễ ỗ ỡ ữ ẵ ẫ ễ ỗ ỡ ữ ẵ ẫ ễ ỗ ỡ ữ ẵ ẫ ễ ỗ ỡ ữ
Fern, designed by David Jonathan Ross

Underdot

An underdot (dấu nặng) is a dot placed under vowels: , , , , , and . It denotes a low dropping pitch and must be positioned clearly below the baseline.

ạ ẹ ị ọ ụ ỵ ạ ẹ ị ọ ụ ỵ ạ ẹ ị ọ ụ ỵ ạ ẹ ị ọ ụ ỵ
Skolar, designed by David Březina