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HACEK organisms are a subgroup of bacteria.


Template:Diacritical marks

Č č Š š Ž ž

A háček ("ˇ", pronounced ), also known as a caron, is a diacritic placed over certain letters to indicate palatalization or iotation in the orthography of Baltic languages and some Slavic languages, whereas some Finno-Lappic languages use it to mark postalveolar fricatives (sh, zh, ch). It looks similar to a breve, but has a sharp tip, like an inverted circumflex (^), while breve is rounded. The left (down) stroke is thicker than the right (up) stroke in typographically correct typefaces, but these are rare. Compare Ǎ ǎ Ě ě Ǐ ǐ Ǒ ǒ Ǔ ǔ (hacek) with Ă ă Ĕ ĕ Ĭ ĭ Ŏ ŏ Ŭ ŭ (breve). When it is not available, in Finno-Lappic languages it can be substituted with 'h', e.g. 'sh' for 'š'.

The word háček means "little hook" in Czech. In Slovak it is called mäkčeň (i.e. "softener" or "palatalization mark"), in Slovenian strešica ("little roof"), in Croatian kvačica (also "small hook"), and hattu ("hat") in Fennic languages.



The use of háček (and the acute) for Latin characters was introduced by Jan Hus in the 15th century into the Czech language and today it is also used by the Slovaks, Slovenians, Croatians, Bosnians, Serbs, Upper Lusatian and Lower Lusatian Sorbs, Lithuanians, Latvians and of Fennic languages, Karelian and some Sami languages.

It is also often used as a diacritical mark on consonants for international transliteration, particularly of other Slavic languages. Philologists often prefer using it to express the sounds that in English require a digraph: "sh", "ch", and "zh", because the Slavic languages use only one character to spell these sounds. Its use for this purpose can even be found in America, because certain atlases edited in Europe but published elsewhere under a domestic logo, use it.

It is also used as an accent mark, that is, to indicate a change in the pronunciation of a vowel. The main example is in Pinyin for Chinese, where it represents a falling-rising tone.

Besides the háček and acute (čárka), the Czechs also use the diacritical mark called the kroužek (ring).

The háček is used in Americanist phonetic notation as a diacritic to indicate various types of pronunciation.

Writing and printing haceks

In printed text, the háček combined with some particular letters is reduced to a small line (as in ť ď ľ Ľ). This only rarely happens in handwritten text. Although the small line may look like an apostrophe, that is definitely not the case. Using apostrophe in place of a caron looks very unprofessional though it is quite common on goods produced in foreign countries and imported to Slovakia or the Czech Republic (compare L' Ľ, t' ť, L'ahko Ľahko). Foreigners also sometimes mistake caron for the acute accent (compare Ĺ Ľ, ĺ ľ).

Note: The plural form of háček in Czech is háčky.

List of letters

A complete list of Czech and Slovak letters with the háček/caron:

  • Č/č (pronounced /ʧ/ — similar to 'ch' in cherry, e.g. Československo which means Czechoslovakia)
  • Š/š (pronounced /ʃ/ — similar to 'sh' in she, e.g. in Škoda Template:Audio)
  • Ž/ž (pronounced /ʒ/ — similar to 's' in treasure, e.g. žal which means sorrow)
  • Ř/ř (only in Czech: special fricative trill /r̝/, also transcribed as /ɼ/ pronounced roughly as a compound of trilled /r/ and /ʒ/, e.g. Antonín Dvořák Template:Audio)
  • Ď,Ť,Ň/ď,ť,ň (palatals, pronounced /ɟ/, /c/, /ɲ/, slightly different from palatalized consonants as found in Russian): "Ďábel a sťatý kůň" which means "Devil and beheaded horse")
  • Ľ/ľ (only in Slovak: pronounced as palatal /ʎ/: "podnikateľ" means "businessman")
  • DŽ/dž (pronounced /ʤ/ "džungle" means "jungle" - almost identical to the "j" sound in jungle and the "g" sound in genius. Somewhat rare.
  • Ě/ě (only in Czech) indicates mostly palatalization of preceding consonant: "dě", "tě", "ně" is pronounced /ɟɛ/, /cɛ/, /ɲɛ/; but "mě" is /mɲɛ/, "bě", "pě", "vě" are /bi̯ɛ/, /pi̯ɛ/, /vi̯ɛ/

Of Baltic and Slavic languages, Croatian, Slovenian, Latvian and Lithuanian use Č/č, Š/š and Ž/ž. Croatian and Latvian also use Dž. The Belarusian Lacinka alphabet also uses them.

Of Finno-Lappic languages, Estonian (and transcriptions to Finnish) use Š/š and Ž/ž, and Karelian and some Sami languages use Č/č, Š/š and Ž/ž. Notice that these are not palatalized, but postalveolar consonants. For example, Estonian kass (palatalized) is distinct from kaš (postalveolar). Palatalization is typically ignored in spelling, but some Karelian orthographies use an apostrophe (').

Other uses

The caron is also used in Mandarin Chinese pinyin romanization and orthographies of several other tonal languages to indicate the "falling-rising" tone (third tone in Mandarin). The caron can be placed on top of the following vowels:

  • Ǎ/ǎ
  • Ě/ě
  • Ǐ/ǐ
  • Ǒ/ǒ
  • Ǔ/ǔ
  • Ǚ/ǚ

The characters Ě/ě are a part of the Unicode Latin Extended-A set because they occur in Czech, while the rest are in Latin Extended-B, which often causes an inconsistent appearance.

The recommendation in Finnish is to used š instead of "sh" and ž for "zh" in transliterations, e.g. Hovanštšina, not Hovanshtshina. However, as Finnish uses neither sound, and neither keyboards nor the ubiquitous ISO_8859-1 codepage support these characters, this recommendation is rarely followed.



For legacy reasons most letters which can carry háčeks exist as precombined glyphs in Unicode, but a háček can also be added to any letter by using the character U+030C COMBINING CARON: example š or ž, but also nonstandard combinations like b̌ or q̌.


In TeX, háček can be written using the sequence \v. For example, a č is written as follows:



On Mac OS X's 'Extended' keyboard layouts the háček is typed by pressing option-v followed by the letter you want. The combination shift-option-v will produce a combining háček appended to the previous character.

Microsoft Word

In Microsoft Word, you can usually find letters with háčeks by clicking Insert → Symbol → Symbols. Select "(normal text)".


In recent versions of XFree86/X.Org servers, letters with háček can be typed as a compose sequence <compose> c <letter>, e.g. pressing Compose-key c e yields the letter ě.

de:Hatschek fr:Hatchek sl:strešica


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