ADS-L/NTY synergy

Peter A. McGraw pmcgraw at LINFIELD.EDU
Tue Apr 24 15:41:15 UTC 2001

I first heard of this usage (diaeresis vs. umlaut, both indicating the same
orthographic symbol) on this list, I think.  I've always (well, at least since grad school) used "Umlaut" to indicate a vowel alternation in the Germanic languages and, especially, the historical process that resulted in
that alternation, and at least when speaking technically, used "diaeresis" for the orthographic symbol that happens to be used in German to mark the fronted vowel of each alternating pair and in English to mark syllabicity. Using two separate words for a single orthographic symbol, one of which confuses the symbol with the sound alternation it indicates, seems imprecise--but oh well, who am I to argue with the AHD4?

Peter Mc.

--On Tuesday, April 24, 2001 9:09 AM +0800 Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU> wrote:

> The AHD4 entry maintains the distinction I mention above:  umlaut for
> fronted vowels, di(a)eresis for separately pronounced vowels.  In
> French, only the latter occurs and it's a "diarèse" or something of
> the sort.  There's evidently a newer sense, not yet in AHD4 or the
> OED, shared by Mark with Bill Safire, in which an umlaut is any
> diacritic consisting of two dots over a vowel, whatever its
> significance.  Me, I think I'll pull out my old prescriptivist garb
> and start a "Save the Diaeresis" groundswell.  It's a fine old term
> for the anti-diphthongization device, dating back to a cite from
> 1611, and I object to its anschluss by "umlaut"

                               Peter A. McGraw
                   Linfield College   *   McMinnville, OR
                            pmcgraw at

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