These aren’t really umlauts in the Lindström signs

With all the fuss last week about the “missing umlaut” in the highway signs outside Lindström, it turns out that we in the media were orthographically incorrect.

Those aren’t umlauts over an o in the sign; the ö is an actual letter in the Swedish alphabet, notes MPR, which quoted from the American Swedish Institute’s Facebook page:

Garth Grugal‪: … It is NOT an umlaut. An umlaut is a modification of an existing letter, in the German language, to indicate a sound change. In Swedish, it’s a completely separate letter…

‪Bo Thidé: … You are absolutely right. The Swedish letter Ö is not “an O with an umlaut over it.” Just as the letter “Q” is not “an O with a tilde under it” …

And MPR gets confirmation from Anatoly Liberman, a professor in the German, Scandinavian and Dutch Department at the University of Minnesota:

“Just because something looks like an umlaut does not mean it is one. This is not a letter with an umlaut on it like it would be in German, where it’s considered a version of an ‘o.’ In Swedish, the ‘ö’ is a specific, distinct letter of the alphabet.”

The sign issue was quickly resolved after all the media attention. State transportation workers quickly added the correct letter, after Gov. Mark Dayton issued an executive order and said he’d fix it himself, if needed.

So: Ööps.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 04/22/2015 - 01:24 pm.

    Did they put two dots–an umlaut–on that Lindstrom sign, or did they replace the O with an O-two-dots different letter?

    Talk about a first-world problem!

    I’m amazed: This happening in a state that refuses to use tildes and accents on Hispanic names, despite the absurdities that result.

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