Sometimes when I want to emphasize that a vowel is short, it is not enough not to write a macron, and I need to add a breve. How can I do that?

The earlier question about typing macrons does not discuss adding a breve.

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My solution using Autohotkey works for any Unicode character (or basically any action you'd like to take on your computer), so also for brevia. I just type whatever combination or sequence of keys I have chosen to get a breve. I have set a\/ for ă, as it is easy to remember. (You can guess how I type â.) No modifier keys, no combinations that are hard to remember.

The Autohotkey code required is as follows, to be changed at your pleasure:


You can basically add any character you like by copy-pasting the last line and copy-pasting a Unicode character you have found on e.g. Wikipaedia instead of ў, and typing some easy-to-remember key sequence instead of y\/. That's how I usually add new characters. But there are even easier ways (ask me).

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When I'm writing Latin I usually use the ABC Extended keyboard layout (in System Preferences > Keyboard > Input Sources), as @Undo suggested in the answers to the linked question. In that layout, Option-B or Alt-B (depending on your OS) adds a breve to whatever vowel you type next.

(I wish I had @Undo's facility with display so that I could make this answer show exactly how this worked, but, alas, I am merely mortal.)

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You can use html entities, but they are less convenient than for macrons:

ă ă
ĕ ĕ
ĭ ĭ
ŏ ŏ
ŭ ŭ
ў ў

For macrons there is an alternative way that is easier to remember (ā is ā or ā), but for a breve the only option seems to be to use numbers.

The Y in the list above is a bit of a hack: I took the lower case y from the Cyrillic and upper case Y from the Greek alphabet. I did not find a Y with breve for the Latin alphabet in the html entities.

Another option is to simply copy from the list above.

Added note: You can add a breve to any letter with ̆ or ̆. This leaves you with only one entity code to remember and it can be easily combined with any character. (Suggested by Mr Lister in comments.)


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    If the Unicode character doesn't exist, that's a surefire sign that no language in the world uses it! Anyway, a better method than putting letters from Cyrillic or Greek in your text is to just type the letter and the reference for the combining character behind it. So y̆ will work beautifully to produce a y with a breve. – Mr Lister Apr 29 '16 at 7:44
  • @MrLister, thanks! That works well. Don't over-interpret the sign though; Latin does use it (in special cases), but for some reason it is not implemented the way other vowels with breve are. Nevertheless, a separate entity code for the breve is very handy. – Joonas Ilmavirta Apr 29 '16 at 8:42

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