"Ït's lïke ä päir öf ëyes. Yöu're löoking ät thë umläut, änd ït's löoking ät yoü."
Ëvërÿthïng's mörë mëtäl wïth ümläüts.
Maybe it's becäuse they can make änything look vaguely Germänic
, and everything söunds scarier in German
. Or maybe it's jüst because they look cöol
, especially whën they're printed in a Göthic typeface
. Either way, the diaeresis has becöme the text equivalent of giving ä Devil-hörned salute. Despite the title, however, the Heävy Mëtal Ümlaut is sometimes used in music genres besides metäl.
Othèr űnnæcessåry diácrîtiçal mârks, Fa
, and gratuitøus slashed ø's alsø shów up occâsioñally in mûsic, althøugh theý're Иot as pøpular or icônic of metäl as the ümläüt. Excessive use of this trope becomes £33†
Üsed very frequently in parödies
, where band names can even have Um̈lauẗs over con̈son̈an̈ẗs; in fact it's well on its way to Discredited Tropedom
if it's not there already.
It must be nöted that this tröpe is about the gratuitoüs
usage of umlauts, not "any usage of umlauts". Some artists actually have an ümlaut in their band or personal names. Einstürzende Neubauten and Björk
are therefore not examples of this trope.
Incidentally, the only letters in German
that include umlauts are ä, ö and ü. They are pronounced, respectively, as: the e in bed (like a combination of a & e); a French "eu", which happens occasionally in English such as the i in sir (o + e); and a French u, made by forming the letter o with your lips, and voicing "eeeee" (u + e). The bands should therefore be pronounced "Mo-tuhrr-head" and "Blue Uhy-ster cult". (If you have a non-rhotic accent, the first two sounds are changed to "air" and "ur".) Ironically, the idea that a heavy rock band could make itself look hard and tough by adding umlauts is one that provokes amusement among many native German speakers, who apparently associate the letter "ö" with "cute", "sweet", "cuddly"...
In common Metal parlance, however, gratuitous umlauts are not pronounced, but this hasn't stopped fans of Queensrÿche asking about the Ÿ.
Not to be confused with other uses of diaereses (also called trema), in which diacritic marks identical to umlauts can appear in some English words. A diaeresis was traditionally used in vowel pairings where the second vowel is pronounced in a separate syllable, hence they are found in archaic spellings of words such as coöperate, preëmptive or Zodiäc. This usage is largely obsolete, though it is still part of the house style of The New Yorker
magazine and MIT Technology Review, but survives in words like naïve which are borrowed from languages which do use diaereses to varying degrees. In modern English, umlaut is used in one special case, over "e" at the end of the word, where it denotes a pronounced "e" instead of silent "e", such as the Brontë siblings.
Gratuitous umlauts usually cause unnecessary embarrassment amongst the native speakers of those languages, whose ortography does
use umlauts. An umlaut usually denotes the vowel is pronounced as frontal. Ä denotes a frontal a, like "cat", while A without umlauts is the back vowel, like "car". Likewise, Ö denotes a frontal o phoneme [usually denoted in English as ir
], not unlike "sir", while O without umlaut is back vowel O, like "dog". Languages which use umlaut vowel shift are German, Swedish, Finnish, Skolt Sami, Karelian, Estonian, Hungarian, Luxembourgish, North Frisian, Saterlandic, Emiliano-Romagnolo, Rotuman, Slovak, Turkish, Tatar, and Turkmen. Often Ä and Ö are treated as completely separate letters from A and O, appearing at the end of the alphabet beyond Z.
Subtrope of Myspeld Rökband
. See also Xtreme Kool Letterz
and Punctuation Shaker
open/close all folders
- In a non-musical example, the DC Comics universe used to have a city called Blüdhaven, which was to Gotham City as New Jersey is to New York and was so dark and corrupt it grew an ümlaut. It mainly appeared in Nightwing and Batgirl, but was eventually destroyed during the Infinite Crisis crossover event.
- The city appeared in the DCAU as well, in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Grudge Match".
- Another non-musical example in Gold Digger. When Gina defeats The merged Armageddon, the explosion is a massive BÜM.
- Brüno, which without the umlaut would be a common German name. With it, it sounds vaguely french and somewhat feminine.
- Parodied in This Is Spinal Tap, where the band's name◊ has an ümlaut over the "n".
- Unicode represents it as "Spın̈al Tap", since not only does the n have an ümlaut, but the i has no dot over it. While the dotless i does exist in Unicode (for example, in Turkish), the n with an umlaut doesn't, which makes it a bit trickier to type (you have to use a "combining diaeresis" character). (For the record, the character n̈ does in fact exist in some Mesoamerican languages, where it represents the same sound as English -ng.)
- In Hot Tub Time Machine with Mötley , Lou's multi-platinum-selling band in which he rose to fame after deciding to stay in the past.
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail takes this Up to Eleven with the Swedish subtitles under the opening credits.
- Faces of Death, the infamous Shockumentary/Mondo film, was hosted by "Dr. Francis B. Gröss."
- In the novel Zodiac by Neal Stephenson, a local metal band is mentioned, and off-handedly dismissed by a metal fan as a "two-umlaut band".
- Not an example: In The Lord of the Rings and other works by Tolkien, the Elvish language Quenya has diaeresis that are superfluous, but not random (that is, they're predictable and they can be left out without change of pronounciation or meaning). They're mostly there to remind English speakers to pronounce final E's (as in únótimë) and split combinations of vowels that don't form a diphthong (as in Eärendil). On the other hand, his use of acute and circumflex accents is significant and marks a difference in pronounciation.
- The setting of the Inheritance
Trilogy Cycle is called Alagaësia, pronounced: Ala-gay-sea-ah. The ümlaut over the e is completely superfluous and does not affect the pronunciation of the name in any way.
- Actually, in the Ancient Language (language of the elves), which is the constructed language Christopher Paolini basically ripped off of old Norse, the diaeresis represents the elongation of the sound (e.g. ä = ay). For example, he explains in one of his appendices about the shift from the elven Äenora (ayenora) to the more human Anora (ahnora). Christopher Paolini made a comment about how Alagaësia is supposed to be pronounced Al-ah-gay-ee-zee-uh, but when us English speakers pronounce it, we mostly drop the ë because it sounds relatively the same without it, plus it's awkward to say.
- It gets even stranger: In German, it does change the pronunciation - from Al-la-gä-si-anote to Al-la-ga-e-si-anote . The problem? The first one is the intended one.
- Rodrick's band Löded Diper from Diary of a Wimpy Kid (though Greg says he probably doesn't know how to spell "Loaded Diaper" anyway).
- In Year Zero, one of the characters — who is made out of a substance that is literally the heaviest metal in the universe — is named Özzÿ.
- Bloom County. Deathtöngue. "A bird on the bass, a tongue - what a face! At best, the music can best be described as lame..."
Dylan Moran talks about "A really exclusive place called Umlaut. You probably haven't heard of it. Well, it's not actually called Umlaut, it's just two dots over a U which isn't there."
- Umläut: Game of Metal the name tells everything really. A review here.
- Don't Starve has Wigfrid, An actress pösing as a valkyrie. Every single "O" that she says will be an "Ö". Sö her speech söunds sömething like this.
- One of the characters in Guitar Hero is named Lars Ümlaüt.
- Rock Band 2 has an achievement called "Needs More Umlauts!", which is awarded the first time you create a band logo.
- This is possibly a double reference to Blue Oyster Cult, who started this trope and gained more popularity through SNL's "Needs More Cowbell" sketch, which the Rock Band games make a LOT of references to.
- Ecstatica, or Ečstati̊ca, features a heavy metal caron as well as a an I with a ring (which doesn't exist in Unicode and has to be composed using a combining character). Cover art here.
- A notable non-music example is Inrenes from Chrono Cross, where this is her Verbal Tic.
- The Heavy Metal game Brütal Legend, starring Jack Black as a roädie who gets sucked into a fantasy world fueled by The Power of Rock, features a Heävy Mëtal Ümlaut in its title. In Xbox Magazine, the creator confessed that the umlaut is there solely because, as a game about heavy metal, it just had to be. (Oddly enough, "brütal" pronounced in German would sound like the correct French pronunciation of "brutal.")
- Yahtzee in his review of the game consistently tries to pronounce it "Brew-tal Legend". In the credits he states that since he's studied German he's not letting the umlaut go unpronounced.
- Done so very well. If you want to sample some "ü", listen to him. If you couldn't guess from the article, English speakers tend to have problems with it.
- Bennett the Sage's review video has, in its description box on YouTube, "Ünnëcëssäry ümläüts? Höw vëry mëtäl!"
- The World Ends with You features the band Def Märch.
- Inverted with Einhänder. The title is correct German, but the narrator incorrectly pronounces the A as a non-umlaut (back) vowel.
- The first mark in The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile is the banker... named Barön Ömötö. However, the one voice clip that plays (an advertisement) pronounces all the ö's long, making his name sound like oe-MOE-toe.
- In Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People: Baddest of the Bands, Strong Bad forms a band with the King of Town and Homsar in his effort to win the Battle Royale of the Bands (reluctantly, since they were the only people not already in the contest). They end up calling themselves D-Ö-I.
- Also, when looking at the banner for Bubs' and Coach Z's band, Two-O-Duo, Strong Bad mentions that the name would "be much cooler with a few umlauts".
- In the Escape Velocity data files, every EV-specific resource type includes a gratuitous umlaut (e.g. "shïp" for spacecraft, "düde" for named characters, etc), to avoid collisions with the built-in system resources.
- The lack of this trope in Atlus' localized versions of the first two Super Robot Wars Original Generation games led to some serious Fan Wank over the presumed "correct" spellings of certain characters' names which continues to this very day. The biggest one being over Sänger Zonvolt, who due to the way Japanese phonetics works, has his name pronounced as "Ze-n-ga-ru" in games that feature voice acting, thus resulting in a number of fans who insist that his name is "Zengar" or some variant thereof.
- Borderlands 2 does the Spinal Tap equivalent, where Captain Flynt's Boss Subtitles has umlauts over the N's in his name.
- In a non-metal example, the title of Dynamite Dux is sometimes spelled Dynamite Düx.
- Parodied in Counterfeit Monkey, where an umlaut punch puts umlauts into any word you give it, turning it briefly into the abstraction of a fake heavy metal band.
- Deathmøle from Questionable Content.
- In PVP, most of the main cast are members of the fictional band "Djörk"... "Nerd rock forever", as one of them put it. Originally, they wanted to call it "Umlaüt" but it turned out to have been already taken by a real band.
- Webcomic Ugly Hill poked fun at this.
- Used repeatedly in Erfworld where the protagonist's army consists of a medley of heavy metal references.
- Bad Machinery used an umlauted band, Lünk, in a strip discussing a rocker vs. mod war. (Link)
- Home Movies: Duane's garage band SCÄB, with music by (the Real Life) Brendon Small, whose other cartoon band Dethklok is curiously ümlaut-free.
- Äctüällÿ, Brëndön's bänd is sömetïmës wrïttën äs "Dethkløk" änd Î thïnk Î've sëën ït wrïttën wïth än ümläüt övër thë 'e' äs wëll.
- Spümcø, the animation studio that originally produced Ren and Stimpy.
- Phineas and Ferb includes a recurring '90s Hair Band called Love Händel.
- Genius Bonus? Taken together, the misspelling and the umlaut suggest Georg Frederich Händel.
- In an episode of ¡Mucha Lucha!, Rikochet is defeated by an American wrestler whose overpowering heavy metal theme music is played by a band called "Oom Lowt."
- Since the 2012 Las Vegas Licensing Expo, the unicorn DJ Pon-3 from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has had her second Fan Nickname acknowledged by Hasbro as well. However, they spelled it◊ Vın̈yl Scratch, as part of a Shout-Out to This Is Spinal Tap.
- A rare trope inversion in Madagascar: King Julien can't speak the ä/ö/ü in the German synchro and replaces them with a/o/u.
- In the episode "Where is the Wand?", Fairly OddParents features a Bavarian folk band (?!?) in lederhosen called "Der Rolling Hösen". note
- Häagen-Dazs ice cream (which is not actually Scandinavian—it's originally from the Bronx). It appears to be, on the face of it, to be half-Danish, half-Hungarian, with a gratuitous umlaut thrown in for good measure.
- It seems to be a trend. There are also the yogurt chains Freshëns and Yogen Früz.
- The reason it looks Danish to English eyes is the similarity with "Copenhagen". A real Artistic License - Linguistics, because the Danish name of Copenhagen is actually København.
- Häagen-Dazs' competitor from the 80's, Frusen Glädjé, is a subversion since it's an actual Swedish phrase meaning "frozen joy" or "frozen delight", except that the proper spelling has no accent over the last "e" (and the accent seems to have been to get Americans to pronounce the "e" instead of saying "froosen gladge").
- "Möben"- or rather, Moben, a well-known British kitchen maker- responded to complaints of passing itself off as German by pointing out that the "umlauts" are not part of the name itself, merely an "artistic device" that formed a part of their logo and "that any resemblance with an umlaut is coincidental".
- There's also the Swedish homewares chain (and, naturally, IKEA clone) Clas Ohlsson, whose British advertising goes in for these. "Usefulshöpp" (approximately "usefulshurp"), anyone?
- And for those wondering, the Swedish word for "shop" (not "shöpp") is actually "butik" (i.e. boutique).
- Änd ïf mänüällÿ äddïng ümläüts ïs töö müch för ÿöü, thërë's ä Përl mödülë tö dö ït för ÿöü.
- The Bödyplex gyms in and around Atlanta, Georgia. They're universally referred to as "Bootyplex" by locals.
- Android phones tries to earn extra credit for not only putting an umlaut on an r, but by putting it inside the r instead of above it.
- Lööks mörë lïkë tÿpögräphïcäl Lüll Dëstrüctïöün thän trÿïng tö äppëär mëtäl, äctüällÿ.
- Ävërtëd in the Pörtügüësë längüägë, the umlauts were banned in the last orthographic reform.
- Fäil mövë, as "cinqüenta" (seencuentah) and "cinquenta" ("seenkentah") dö nöt rësült in the säme prönünciätiön. The ümlaüts märked whën the Q and the G wöuld make differënt sounds, thüs were far away from uselessdom. The Ç, on the other hand...
- Not to speak of til, denoting a nasal sound, such as ã and õ. No wonder "Magellan" is preferred in English over "Magalhães".
- Inverted with the Baroque composer George Frederic Handel, who anglicised his name (thus dropping the umlaut) in Britain. In Germanic countries, he still went by Georg Friedrich Händel.
- In Oulunkylä, a suburb of Helsinki, it is sometimes possible to see a car that looks very much like a police car. Only instead of Poliisi (police) it says Rosvå. Not quite purely decorative, however, as å is pronounced the same as o, only longer, so it almost sounds like rosvo, the Finnish word for thief.
- Subverted by Finnish heavy metal band Teräsbetoni. The name means simply "reinforced concrete" in Finnish and the umlaut is not gratuitous.
- Subversion: Jäääär is a legitimate word in Estonian (it means "ice-edge") even though it looks totally ridiculous to foreigners.
- As is pää-äänenkannattaja (main supporter [newspaper]) in Finnish. Ice edge would be jäänääri or jäänreuna in Finnish. Umlauts are not gratuitous.
- Backfired by American heavy metal band Trojan, who used umlaut over 'o' on their concert T-shirts. That failed spectacularly in Sweden, as tröjan means simply "the shirt" in Swedish...