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Do accents (like ^, ', ~, or even the Ç) affect the order of words, when sorting them?

As a native speaker I never considered those diacritical marks relevant when ordering words, but I would like to know if there is an official source confirming this expectation (or perhaps denying it).

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  • This seems a good start of an investigation into a strong answer: in Portuguese, "ç" and "c" are the same letter, but in Turkish they are not the same letter. Thus, they affect sorting differently. – ANeves thinks SE is evil Feb 5 '19 at 19:36
  • @ANeves So, there is a precedent for diacritical marks to affect ordering, even though I don't think it applies in Portuguese. As a side note, this question is a spin-off from this question on Worldbuilding.SE – gmauch Feb 5 '19 at 20:15
  • I see it differently: in Portuguese c and ç are the same letter, so it doesn't affect ordering. In Turkish, c and ç are different letters so it does affect ordering. – ANeves thinks SE is evil Feb 6 '19 at 14:40
  • Good point. I have a intuitive definition of a letter, not sure I already saw a formal definition of it. Perhaps Turkish is so distinct from Portuguese that it's natural that C and Ç are different letters and not the same letter with just a mark. – gmauch Feb 6 '19 at 16:53
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If you're talking about alphabetical ordering in dictionaries or printed indices at the end of books, then the order is this one:

a < á < à < â < ã
c < ç

So we have:

ca (because/for/than) < < (ca + a before AO 1990) < (white hair)
laca < laça

However, this only comes into play as a tie-breaking rule for when two words differ only in their diacritics (in collation lingo, it's a secondary difference):

pelo < pêlo (before A0 1990) < peloiro (= pelouro)

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In Portuguese, it's common to ignore accents for sorting. Several official systems (I'd say most of them) even remove them altogether when storing, so they don't affect searching or sorting.

I.e. "a", "à", "á" and "ã" are all treated as "a" for sorting purposes.

But be aware, that this doesn't apply to every language.

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