Umlauts

English has a peculiarity. It lacks ö. Had someone been bright enough to put that letter into English, earn could have been spelled örn. Turkish and Swedish both have ö and of course several other letters not used in English as well.

What has surprised me here, mainly at work, but also in other contexts, is how often all of these letters that happen to be excluded from the English alphabet are just skipped in electronic communication. When writing Swedish I go to great lengths to use all letters and at my blog in Swedish (see link slightly south of this text) about Istanbul I’m very careful to use both Swedish and Turkish letters.

Perhaps the reason is a worse support for the Turkish alphabet, but don’t you all agree that a mutilated language is ugly language?

9 Comments so far

  1. Julio (unregistered) on March 2nd, 2006 @ 8:09 pm

    Earn could never be spelled “örn,” because the the inital vowel sounds do not sound the same. The transliteration of “ö” into English is “oe”, not “ea”. Therefore I don’t know what point you’re trying to make regarding the English language. An argument could be made that Swedish would be easier for non-speakers to understand if they got rid of the “ö” and the “å”.


  2. Sven Holmström (unregistered) on March 2nd, 2006 @ 10:18 pm

    “Earn could never be spelled “örn,” because the the inital vowel sounds do not sound the same.”

    The most common Swedish way of pronouncing that letter is definitely like that (‘örn’, pronounced almost exactly as ‘earn’ does in fact mean eagle.) The Turkish way of pronouncing is somewhat different, but similar enought to my Swedish ears. But you know, it’s hard to hear the finer differences in foreign languages. I can’t understand the sound of the dotless i in Turkish and Turks usually can’t get the ‘y’ in Swedish.

    I don’t know what you mean with “The transliteration of “ö” into English is “oe”, not “ea”.” When writing Swedish in English we write ‘ö’ as ‘oe’, true. But this has little to do with the sound value. All Swedish vowels are pronounced very differently in different words. There is not one transliteration.

    “An argument could be made that Swedish would be
    easier for non-speakers to understand if they got rid of the “ö” and the “å””

    This was an incredibly lame statement.


  3. Bob Dobbs (unregistered) on March 3rd, 2006 @ 3:13 am

    One could say that your statement that English is peculiar for not having umlauts is incredibly lame. Perhaps Swedish is peculiar for having them.


  4. Sven Holmström (unregistered) on March 3rd, 2006 @ 6:46 am

    It was a joke. Did I hurt you dear nationalist feelings (whichever country they may adhere to)?

    As anyone who has actually read what I wrote understands my whole point was that I have noticed that a lot of turks skip the so called umlauts in electronic communication.

    I can’t understand why anyone would get agressive about this. It’s just beyond me.


  5. metecem (unregistered) on March 3rd, 2006 @ 5:53 pm

    hold it guys….steady…

    nobody ain’t gonna get hurt… ya all get that ?

    goodie…

    :)


  6. The Spaniard (unregistered) on March 4th, 2006 @ 4:21 pm

    Real men use tildes.


  7. BINGO (unregistered) on March 5th, 2006 @ 5:29 pm

    Motley Crue just isn’t the same without umlauts…


  8. arved (unregistered) on March 8th, 2006 @ 4:29 pm

    Sven, I agree with you, Especially for foreigners, who don’t know all words of the language, reading texts without umlauts (e.g. sites like Ekşi Sözlük) is a lot more difficult.


  9. Sven Holmström (unregistered) on March 15th, 2006 @ 9:56 pm

    That is true, it’s very hard for me to read any Turkish without the special sign. It’s only very recently I understood the Turkcell commercial where they strip the vowels and write ‘gnçtrkcll’.

    But also I think you loose a lot of the joy in reading when stripping it of some of its characters. Reading Swedish without ‘ö’, ‘å’ and ‘ä’ is like eating while sitting in the bathroom. I understand the text and get full respectively, but both experiences are awful.



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