Umlauts Are the New Apostrophes. :-)

This blog post was triggered by seeing a book blurb with a lot of umlauts in the characters’ names… We’re talking more than one per name!

An umlaut, in case you don’t know, is the little two-dot thing sometimes seen above vowels in certain languages. It indicates a different pronunciation from the usual one. (There’s also the metal umlaut, which is strictly decorative. I suspect a lot of fiction writers are actually using the metal umlaut without realizing it.)

Once upon a time, writers and readers would joke about overuse of apostrophes in fictional names: “Apostrophes make you alien,” or something like that. Perhaps due to these jokes, SF/F writers have mostly stopped using apostrophes to decorate non-human names. Now many of them sprinkle umlauts all over the place instead.

If apostrophes make you alien, perhaps umlauts make you elvish.

(Disclaimer: None of Weaver’s elves have umlauts in their names. No, not even that one.)

About Thomas Weaver

For several years, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom (editor). I'm physically disabled, and I currently live with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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6 Responses to Umlauts Are the New Apostrophes. :-)

  1. J.R. Handley says:

    You should try it, I hear it’s cathartic!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Lol. That was enjoyable.

    Liked by 1 person

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