Name: double acute, hungarumlaut
Adobe PS: hungarumlaut
Unicode: 02DD, 030B
Languages: Hungarian

Double Acute, Hungarumlaut

History and examples of use

Double acute is used in Hungarian (as its postscript name suggests) to denote the lengthening of vowels ö and ü. In some North American Native languages, like Tanacross (Athapascan), it is used to indicate an extra-high tone.

In the first Hungarian documents dating back to the 17th century there were no differences between double-acute and dieresis. In both cases a third mark was used, a kind of inverted coma (a derivation of spiritus asper) On the other hand the famous Hungarian Typographer Nicolas Kis (Misztótfalusi Kis Miklós or M. Tótfalusi Kis Miklós) at the end of the 17th century uses already dieresis in his Bible but there is no distinction between dieresis and double-acute. One hundred years later you could find different usage even within one printing house. In the Type specimen book of Nagyszombat dating back to 1773 you will find the next step towards the present day hungarumlauts. Instead of double-acutes there is a dieresis and an acute. In the 19th century newspapers at least appears the double-acute and the dieresis as well systematically but with different cut.


In Hungarian, the acute accent indicates a “long” vowel. A long vowel also tends to be more tense than its short counterpart: e is ɛ while é is [e:]. The umlauted vowels ö and ü are distinct short vowel sounds œ and y. The double acute is used when a regular umlauted vowel is long: ő is [ø:] and ű is [y:]. Hungarian stress is always word initial, so there is no need to indicate it with diacritics.


From the typographer’s point of view, hungarumlaut is composed of two following acutes. Because the acute tends to be too horizontal, it is usually necessary to adapt it by narrowing the stroke and twisting the shape a little, so that the new accent does not come out too wide to fit above the character. It might prove difficult to place the hungarumlaut horizontally. It should be optically centered above the character.