inverted circumflex

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From its earliest attested use as an idiomatic phrase in 1810, inverted circumflex was first used to denote a dipping tone — an inversion of the peaking tone denoted by ⟨⟩, the Ancient Greek περισπωμένη (perispōménē), commonly translated as “circumflex” — thence the name was applied to diacritics which marked such a dipping tone and, by extension, other tones to which it was suited; finally, due to such a diacritic’s resemblance to the háček, the name came to be applied to it as well.


inverted circumflex (plural inverted circumflexes)

  1. (phonology, now disused) A dipping tone.
    • 1810, Benjamin Humphrey Smart, A Practical Grammar of English Pronunciation, page 335:
      The inflection, which begins upward and ends downward on the same syllable, called the circumflexed slide, is exemplified by the proper utterance of the word they in the succeeding instance:
      Not he, but they are in fault.
      And the inflection, which is just the reverse of this, namely, which begins downward and ends upward, called the inverted circumflex, may be instanced by the same word in Italic, as follows:
      They tell us to be moderate; — but they, they are to wallow in profusion.
    • 1827, James Rush, The Philosophy of the Human Voice, pages ix and x:
      Mr. Walker does triumphantly claim the discovery of the inverted circumflex accent, or the downward and upward continued movement.
      Greek and Roman writers tell us, indefinitely, of the acute, grave, and circumflex movements; and these, with the newly described inverted circumflex, have, at a recent date, first been formally regarded, in the art of speaking the English language.
  2. (typography) Any diacritic obtained by rotating a circumflex (ˆ) 180°.
    • 1844, An Introduction to the Art of Reading, page 107:
      This rising inflection will be indicated by an inverted circumflex ( ˇ ) being placed over the last syllable in the clause that bears the primary accent.
  3. (now only informally) A háček.
    • 1876, Appletons’ Journal XV, page 511:
      In this way c surmounted by an inverted circumflex accent stands for our sound of ch, which in Russian, Polish, or Servian words, we usually see spelled cz.