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

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived 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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