Umlaut Envy Redux

Except among the pretentious twits at the New Yorker, who insist on "coöperation" and "naïve," English has no umlauts, cross-hatches, cedilles, or other diacriticals. That means one thing: umlaut envy. The authors of the German group blog Riesenmaschine (‘Giant Machine’) has noticed, and are amüsed.

Take it away, Machinists (my translation):

Good night, Ümlaut

SuendeIt’s come this far: The North American enthusiasm for umlauts in bar-names yesterday finally broke all bonds. It began, I’d say, about two weeks ago, when the first German words popped up; suddenly bars were named “Überfall” and “Blüte”, which is pretty harmless, as far as it goes. But then people began to discover the exotic strangeness of the two little flying dots and went batshit. At first, people hovered in a transition phase that lasted only a couple of hours, in which they resorted to ordinary umlauted words (Pangäa). But then they moved to just declaring any foreign word they saw fair game, and slapping a couple of superfluous umlauts onto it.  Then people began to think, and realized that English words also look nicely odd, when you throw a couple umlauts onto them (Blür). Like a plague of rabbits, the umlaut conquered every continent, destroyed the native letters, and left a language desert in its wake. That was long ago. Since yesterday, though, since there is a restaurant in Bloor West Village in Toronto called “Blüme,” the well-traveled umlaut has arrived back in its homeland. Helpless and confused, the poor guy sits around in the pedestriän area, begs for spare chänge, and doesn’t even understand his own language anymore.

This post is a continuation of: Änd Tomörrow, the Whöle Wörld… (G)

7 thoughts on “Umlaut Envy Redux

  1. Point taken, mademoiselle L, but note that these words all originated in other languages, mostly le français. That ain’t no “real” English. If you can find me something like pançake, gölf, or cłown, then I’ll concede the point.


  2. Hmmm…. What about that odd conjoined AE thing that is used in such prestigious websites as the that of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica? Or dod we get that from Latin?


  3. What about the verb to fête? It is an English regular verb, complete with derived forms such as fêted and fêting. As far as I know – not very far, actually – gerunds act as noums, which means you can go to a fêting. Let’s fête this finding, then! You know who asked me to search for such words, I found this one and believe that others may exist. Hope you are doing well.


  4. You should not forget to mention that the indisputable spearheads of the umlaut movement have been heavy metal bands such as Blue Öyster Cult, Mötley Crue and Motörhead who spread the “röck döts” already in the 1970s. And while what you label umlaut envy might in fact be some sort of stupid sophistication, these bands were using the dots to give themselves an image of boldness and strength. In 2002, Spin magazine referred to the heavy metal umlaut as “the diacritical mark of the beast”.


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