Monday, October 07, 2013


Seen in the NY Times: an umlaut!

I thought their style guide was based on hot type (or something) that didn't have diacriticals, but there it is, in an article about the Nobel laureates in medicine:
The Karolinska Institute in Stockholmannounced the winners: James E. Rothman of Yale University; Randy W. Schekman of the University of California, Berkeley; and Dr. Thomas C. Südhof of Stanford University.
So why doesn't Osmo Vänskä rate his own umlauts?


Alex Ross said...

The rule, at least as it stood when I was at the NYT, is that umlauts or equivalent diacritics are allowed for German names, but not for Finnish, Estonian, etc. It drove me absolutely crazy to have to write "Arvo Part." But somehow, in recent years, Pärt was allowed his glyph. Why Vänskä still isn't I can't explain.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Style guide weirdness!

Bela Bartok is okay, but Béla Bartók isn't, then.

Anonymous said...

Once when Vänskä was guest conducting at SFS, the poster pinned in the elevator announcing that the conductor would sign CDs printed his surname without the umlauts. So when nobody was looking I penciled them in.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I learned how to include diacriticals primarily because I felt so bad about typing Vanska instead of Vänskä.

Dave MacD said...

If only the New Yorker would coöperate and loan them more umlauts. They seem to have a quite a bounty.

Lisa Hirsch said...

A (linguistics professor) friend writes:

An umlaut is a symbol indicating a sound modification. The dots over vowels in Finnish, Estonian, etc. indicate sounds in their own right. There is no word for this in English, unfortunately.

Mark Winges said...

It must be particularly weird to a native Swedish speaker (for example). It's more than sound modification, the a, the ä and the å are different letters, and are alphabetized in different places in the phone book.