Phonetics

What is umlaut in English/characteristic/ in other languages

Umlaut

The umlauts are two horizontal points that are placed on the letter u, forming a ü. This spelling sign indicates that the u must be pronounced in the syllables güe and güi. Examples of words with umlauts are the following: bilingual, omen, stork, argue, slaughter, crankshaft, linguist, penguin, or flattering. What is umlaut in English?

The use of the umlaut is intended to adapt the spelling of a word to its loudness. If not, the word would be pronounced incorrectly. In this way, we observe that words such as warrior, ghetto or wink do not have an umlaut, but terms such as shame, fat or canoeist do.

Characteristics of the umlaut

The umlaut is characterized by the following aspects:

– The umlaut is identified by being an orthographic sign. That is, it is used as graphic signage to give a text the proper meaning.

– This orthographic sign is represented by two points that are placed side by side horizontally. Graphically it is written as follows: (¨).

– In general, the umlaut is used in the Spanish language on the vowel “u” ​​when it is preceded by the consonant “g” and followed by the vowels “e” or “i”.

– The umlaut is also called cremilla or cream.

– The umlaut is also part of languages ​​other than Spanish, such as: French, Portuguese and Greek. Its use will depend on the established grammar rules. For example, in the French language, umlauts are placed on the second vowel joined to another to indicate that its pronunciation is independent, that is, separate.

What is it for?

The umlaut as an orthographic sign serves to give pronunciation value to the letter “u” within a word in Spanish. Its placement indicates that the vowel is independent of the phonetic form or the digraph “gu”.

There are some words made up of “gue” or “gui” that do not require the placement of the umlaut because the “u” is not pronounced.

Some words in Spanish that do not have an umlaut are: guitar, war, warrior, guiñapo, guindar, someone, stinger or garland. What is umlaut in English?

The umlaut as an orthographic sign

Linguists call the umlaut with other lesser-known terms, specifically they call it cream or cremilla. As a spelling sign, the umlaut is a diacritical sign, like spelling accents, the ñ sign, or the circumflex accent of some languages.

The umlaut is considered as an auxiliary sign of the language , so it is in the same classification as the apostrophe or the asterisk.

The umlaut in other languages What is umlaut in English?

The umlaut in German

Jacob Grimm (yes, exactly, one of the Grimm brothers) was the one who introduced the term Umlaut to German. Its meaning is “sound around” and refers to the “curve” of sound, so to speak, between one vowel and another. These two small dots are usually placed on the letters “a”, “o”, “u” and are one of the most difficult phonemes to pronounce for many. The umlaut in German combines two vowels in the same sound:

  • “A” and “e” become “ä”,
  • “O” and “e” become “ö”,
  • “U” and “e” become “ü”.

One of the difficulties that those of us who have learned to speak German face is Umlaut. It takes time to understand that the letters “ä”, “ö” and “ü” are simply sounds trapped between two vowels, even though they are considered distinct sounds and are included as individual letters in the German alphabet. Commonly the representation of the umlaut is done by adding an “e” to the affected vowel, as for example for Goethe, which will never be written Göthe. What is umlaut in English?

The umlaut in French

In French, the word tréma (from the Greek trēma (τρῆμα) meaning “hole” or “pierce”) has the same appearance as the umlaut but a completely different purpose. While in German it means a change of sound and in Spanish it emphasizes the pronunciation of a letter, in French it is used to indicate the pronunciation of a vowel within a digraph or diphthong. Thus, for example, in the word Noël (Christmas), the two dots are there to remind you that you should not merge both vowels into a single sound, but that you have to pronounce the “o” and “e” separately. What is umlaut in English?

The umlaut in English

English also has some words with umlauts; generally in names or surnames such as Zöe or Brontë. In some words its use is optional, such as naïv (naive, naive). Most of these words come from languages ​​like French and have been responsible for enriching and expanding English throughout history. Of course, such influence often causes confusion, especially in spelling, and the umlaut is no exception. In fact, some newspapers like the New York Times justify their choice in their style guides.

Similar sounds in other languages What is umlaut in English?

We have talked about the use of the umlaut in German. Now, is it just a form of writing? Does that sound exist in other languages? You are right! Here are two clear examples.

The umlaut in the vowel “o” in German “ö” is comparable to the “œ” in French. Words like œvre (work), cœur (heart) or also œil (eye) have the same sound as the “ö” in German (a handy suggestion and a great incentive in case you want to or are learning French or German). The German variant of “ö” in Danish and Norwegian is the vowel “ø”. In some ancient texts it is possible to find the letter “ö” instead of “ø” to differentiate open sounds from closed sounds. Thus, we could almost say that the “ø” is an evolution of the “oe” as in French.

The use of the umlaut as a diacritic is present in languages ​​such as Afrikaans and Albanian. The same Germanic sound occurs in the case of Swedish and Dutch. These last two languages ​​will continue to present a challenge for speakers of languages ​​in which vowels are separated and rarely slip past each other, such as Spanish.

However, don’t let the use of the umlaut in other languages ​​put you off. If you want to learn or are already learning German, don’t worry, sometimes it is difficult even for native speakers. Let yourself be carried away by those weird, but attractive sounds, while practicing the pronunciation of words like öko (ecological), ähnlich (similar) and süß (sweet). What is umlaut in English?

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