I’ll let the article from The New Yorker by Nora Ephron kick off this dottiness. I know that The Girl Who Fixed the Umlaut did the rounds on blogs and on facebook last week, but it’s a good one. I think someone said it contains spoilers if you have yet to read Stieg Larsson, but I’d expect those five people not to mind.

I could really do with some input from non-umlaut speakers here. To me it looks so very empty with an a where my soul is crying out for å or ä. But I don’t honestly want aa or ae in their place, which seems to be what newspapers still offer. How – in this day and age of computers – they can have a problem with dotting their letters, I will never understand.

But, if I encounter an ĕ, I have absolutely no idea what it does, so I’d be happy to ignore it. Just as you lot ignore my ö. It’s fine. It really is. And I’d much rather hesitate over that o, than stare at the oe.

Though that is a matter of taste. Someone was wanting a book title for their next novel containing a name with an ö in it, but wasn’t sure it would work for English speakers. I had no problem with it, naturally, but I know how I break into a sweat over Carl Hiaasen. And I’m panicking all the more because I don’t know how his Scandinavian name has been altered while in America. It’s one thing to know how to say it, and another to know how – or if – to mistreat it the correct way.

Take your average piece of IKEA furniture. Outside Sweden I have more trouble than most with the stupid names, because I have absolutely no idea of which way to ruin them. I once wanted a new kitchen table and didn’t know how to talk about it, and I’d never have guessed what the English sales staff called it. Bought Son a duvet a few years ago, and had to ask for it in the store. I waved my hand at the shelf and inquired if they had any more. The duvet was called Mysa Måne, and I’m still quivering with admiration for its new identity ‘en anglais’. (Bet I got that wrong.)

And how can he be Sven-Goeran? I ask you. He is not. Sven-Göran or Svennis are fine.

I mentioned the Danish or Norwegian aa, which has been modernised to å. However if it’s a name, you may prefer to still be Haakon and not Håkon. Or not. And any Håkon with an old typewriter will have to be Haakon anyway, since that’s all you get.

Then we have the new Swedish shop Clas Ohlson, which is not making matters any easier with their almost amusing advertisements. ‘A really useful shöp’. Honestly. And the Resident IT Consultant is still very fond of the bad thermometer he found in this shöp.

Ï’d bëttėr léãvê whìlē thè gøing ĩs gőōd.

9 responses to “Dotty?

  1. I will speak for my entire country here and say that we don’t like to bother much with the extra marks. Sometimes we don’t even like to bother with what we consider extra letters. In other words, you can take the umlaut as understood.

  2. The all-eating English language should do the decent thing and just adopt all those interesting little marks. The French ones, or the lack of them in English, are the most striking lack. Why should ‘passe’ be pronounced passay without the accent? No wonder people refer to leffe beer as ‘leffay’. Yuck.

  3. Seana – thanks for the very speedy American answer. Now for the rest of the world. We can do it continent by continent.

    Thomas – glad you think so. I’ve been reliably informed that in English we don’t accent café, but I keep doing the é because I can’t quite see myself even with a cup of tea at the ‘keyf’.

  4. I could certainly use some guidance here. I sometimes write Lowe, sometimes Löwe, and sometimes Loewe. The worst is, I can’t even remember which one I’ve used in my passport.

  5. And I’m very fussy about the grave accent in my name, because I was once a French teacher and am fussy about such matters. Shame I can’t do the accent on email or in comments boxes….or maybe I could by a cutting or pasting method, but honestly life is too short.
    Non-accented Adele

  6. Half-baked anglicisms are a particular bugbear of mine, but they are usually easy to sidestep. After all, a café without its accent is a simply a coffee shop.

  7. Adèle, you were my reason for investigating this keyboard until I could write about you properly. Still need to go back to old posts and update…

    You and Faïza Guène.

    Lee, please don’t be a Loewe! I much prefer you to be Löwe, because then you and I can be two thirds of a Narnia title. Only the wardrobe missing.

  8. Møst entertaining pøst 😀

    Yours faithfully,

    Mrs Hummelshøj.

  9. Shöp! 🙂 Oh, my.

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