The culinary significance of accents

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Fri Dec 4 00:15:40 UTC 2009

 From today's New York Times obituary of Jan
Mitchell, who was born in 1913 in what is now
Latvia and whose first name was pronounced "Yahn"
(no, this is not the accent I mean):

"Not least, he put the umlaut back on top of the
"u," which [August] Lüchow had dropped in 1917 in
response to anti-German sentiment during World
War I. The absence of the umlaut had led many new
customers to believe that the place was a Chinese
restaurant. Mr. Mitchell, tired of explaining
that no egg rolls were served in the Niebelungen
Room, put the two dots back where they belonged in 1952."

The new customers must have been out-of-town
musical illiterates, as contrasted with the
"musical elite of the German-speaking world," who
were pleased to find Lüchow's near Steinway Hall and the Academy of Music.


The American Dialect Society -

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