Lindström, Minnesota: More than just a pair of dots

A section of LIndstrom's business district.
Photo by Audrey Kletscher Helbling
A section of  Lindström’s business district.

IT’S ALL A BIT AMUSING in a Minnesota sort of way.

Some folks in Lindström, “America’s Little Sweden” located about 40 miles north of the Twin Cities, noted the omission of the umlaut over the letter “o” on newly-erected official Minnesota Department of Transportation highway signage. They weren’t happy.

The town's 1908 water tower, converted to a Swedish coffee pot in 1992, sports umlauts.
Photo by Audrey Kletscher Helbling
The town’s 1908 water tower, converted to a Swedish coffee pot in 1992, sports umlauts.

Now if you’re of Swedish heritage and/or a stickler about absolutely proper linguistics, you can understand this discontent. I studied German in high school and college and am well aware of the importance of umlauts in correct pronunciation of a word. An umlaut denotes a specific sound.

A Swedish dala horse and  Yule goat posted on a business honor this community's Swedish heritage.
Photo by Audrey Kletscher Helbling
A dala horse and Yule goat posted on a business honor Lindström’s Swedish heritage.

I expect if I lived in Lindström, where the Swedish heritage is an integral part of the town’s identity and a tourism draw, I might be miffed, too, about that missing umlaut.

In MnDOT’s defense, it was simply following state law which allows only standard alphabet usage (no umlauts or such) on traffic control devices.

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has since intervened, issuing an executive order on April 15 that approves addition of those two missing dots above the “o.”

In the meantime, The New York Times, the Associated Press and many other media outlets have picked up this, shall I call it, distinctly Minnesotan story.

I noticed in a television news story on the missing umlaut, that signage on the city’s center of government reads Lindstrom City Hall and Community Center rather than Lindström City Hall and Community Center. On the city’s website, the umlaut is sometimes there, sometimes not. I find that discrepancy interesting.

During my visit, I was more interested in what the bakery had to offer.
Photo by Audrey Kletscher Helbling
During my visit, I was more interested in what the bakery had to offer than an awareness of umlauts.

So I wondered about other signage in this community of 4,442 which my husband and I visited briefly last October, when I wasn’t noting the absence or presence of umlauts. I checked my few photos and here’s what I found:

Umlauts on the Swedish coffee pot, but none on the bakery sign.
Photo by Audrey Kletscher Helbling
Umlauts on the Swedish coffee pot, but none on the bakery sign.
No umlauts on the bakery bench signage either.
Photo by Audrey Kletscher Helbling
No umlauts on the bakery bench signage either.

Interesting, huh?

Apparently no umlauts in the word "julekaka" on this bakery signage.
Photo by Audrey Kletscher Helbling
Inside the bakery which specializes in Swedish treats.

Umlaut or not, Lindström has garnered national attention. And that can only benefit local tourism in Lindström/Lindstrom.

BONUS PHOTOS:

More bakery treats.
Photo by Audrey Kletscher Helbling
More bakery treats.
Many choices at this bakery.
Photo by Audrey Kletscher Helbling
Many choices at this bakery.
Nothing Swedish, as far as I know, about Deutschland Meats.
Photo by Audrey Kletscher Helbling
Nothing Swedish about Deutschland Meats. Love that kitschy brat art atop the business.
A must-visit antique shop in Lindstrom.
Photo by Audrey Kletscher Helbling
The must-visit Lindström Antique Mall, where you will find Swedish merchandise.

This post was written by Audrey Kletscher Helbling and originally published on Minnesota Prairie Roots.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Carol Flynn on 04/17/2015 - 12:25 pm.

    Lindstrom

    A visiting Swede once showed me his travel itinerary: New York City, Lindstrom, San Francisco.

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