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

Tone Marks

Most languages use Latin alphabet, and the English language is the only one that does not include diacritical marks.

Maja Turčić, Antun Koren, Vesna Uglješić, and Ivan Rajković

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

Acute (dấu sắc) is a tone mark that resembles a tiny forward slash placed on vowels: á é í ó ú ý. The acute, which starts from a narrow bottom and ends with a wide top, denotes a high rising pitch. The acute mark should rise slightly toward the right of the base character (á) without falling off. If applied to a letter with an existing diacritical mark, the acute should be positioned so as to be clearly distinguished from the other mark: ắ ấ ế ố ớ ứ.

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

Grave (dấu huyền) is a tone mark that resembles a tiny backward slash placed on vowels: à è ì ò ù ỳ. The grave, which starts from a wide top and ends with a narrow bottom, denotes a low pitch. The grave mark should rise slightly toward the left of the base character (à) without falling off. If applied to a letter with an existing diacritical mark, the grave should be positioned so as to be clearly distinguished from the other mark: ằ ầ ề ồ ờ ừ.

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
Mallory designed by Tobias Frere-Jones

Hook above

Hook above (dấu hỏi) is a tone mark that resembles a question mark without a dot placed on vowels: ả ẻ ỉ ỏ ủ ỷ. The hook above denotes a mid-low dropping pitch. If applied to a letter with an existing diacritical mark, the hook above should be positioned so as to be clearly distinguished from the other mark: ẳ ẩ ể ổ ở ử.

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

Tilde

Tilde (dấu ngã) is a tone mark placed only on vowels: ã ẽ ĩ õ ũ ỹ. The tilde denotes a high rising pitch; therefore, it should be clear and distinguishable. If applied to a letter with an existing diacritical mark, the tilde should be positioned so as to be clearly distinguished from the other mark: ẵ ẫ ễ ỗ ỡ ữ.

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

Underdot (dấu nặng) is a dot placed under vowels: ạ ẹ ị ọ ụ ỵ. The underdot denotes a low dropping pitch; therefore, it should 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
Arno designed by Robert Slimbach