a linguistic PSA.

Dear language-using public:

Using the German umlaut in place of an English vowel may look cool and edgy, but it changes the way the word is pronounced.

The umlaut letters Ä, Ö, and Ü change the sound of the respective vowel from a back to a front vowel.  (To a German speaker, the first part of Motörhead would be pronounced like the French word for motor, moteur.)

Just a quick reminder to let you know that you’re actually making German speakers try and pronounce your word constructs in their heads when you indiscriminately use the Heavy Metal umlaut.  Think of the German speakers, please.



16 thoughts on “a linguistic PSA.

  1. scotaku says:

    Which reminds me, I’ve always thought that Mötley Crüe sücks.

  2. Jake says:

    “Motorhead” is linguistically plausible, given the difference in pronunciation between the first and second “o”.

  3. Tony says:

    Oi! Us Finns use umlauts too! So think about the Finns as well. (Yes, the Swedish use umlauts as well, but nobody cares about them. 😉 )

  4. dave says:

    I can’t help but imagine your inspiration for this post was someone in WoW who used one in their character name because the name proper was taken.

  5. Alex Duncan says:

    I have the beef with people who use throw random Greek letters into English words. Lamda (L) and delta (D) get used as A because they’re triangular. Sigma (S) gets to fill in for E and sometimes they use phi (F) as I.

    I’m not very familiar with Cyrrilic characters but they seem to get the same treatment when people try to evoke that soviet chic motif that deserves to be as out of fashion as the Ford Edsel.

  6. BobG says:


  7. Fodder4Thought says:

    “Think of the German speakers, please.”


  8. Kristopher says:

    English speakers will continue to use these various marks as decoration, since English doesn’t use them.

    We don’t care.

  9. Ruzhyo says:

    Second what Mr. Duncan says about Cyrillic character abuse.

  10. T says:

    It’s our revenge for those horrible compound nouns Germans make at the drop of a hat.

    • Tam says:

      The German language is only allowed to invent three new words every fifteen years as part of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, so they use the compound noun thing as a sort of dodge around the restrictions…

  11. Antibubba says:

    Well, I don’t like Hüsker Dü any less for it.

    • Windy Wilson says:

      But the ice creams, Häagen Daz and the knock-off Früsen Glädje are ok, aren’t they? Even though no American recognizes the vowels used. As I recall even the one TV commercial Früsen Glädje made had the actress mispronouncing the word.

      I call those compound German words “Lego words”, as they just snap sub-words together until they make the concept they want.

  12. Marja says:

    STÅRGATE always made me giggle. Try saying that with a Swedish pronunciation.

    And hi Tony – us Finns are a bit overpresented on the net, aren’t we?

  13. Tony says:

    Marja, I always pronounce it that way. I find it hilarious that a high-budget production screws up like that. 😀

    And I don’t think there are too many Finns, at all. It is pretty rare to run into another one on the web sites I usually visit.

  14. Justthisguy says:

    What about the people who don’t know the difference between the ich-laut and the ach-laut? I always try to pronounce German correctly, and also try always to pronounce French incorrectly, just to annoy the Frogs.

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