Schröder Schroeder Schroder

Jim   Thursday, October 02, 2003, 04:20 GMT
Why is it that when people write foreign names in English they often feel the need to change the spelling?

Of course, we make very little use of diacritical marks when we write English. I wouldn't want to see more of them introduced to the language. They are a pain to write.

However, I think it's better to keep them if they belong there. I always put the extra dot on the "i" in "naïve" and the accent over the "e" in "café". Though, if you want to spell these words "naive" and "cafe", I'm not going to complain. These words are a part of the English language and so if people want them spelt in such a was as to have them fit in better, fine.

Names, on the other hand, I'd argue are a different story. The people whose names' you are spelling deserve enough respect that you should make the effort to spell them correctly. Place names too, in fact, any name. You wouldn't want someone coming along and saying "Oh, no, no, the way you spell your name is no good for us, we're going to have to respell the thing, so there."

For example, what's the go with taking the two dots off German letters and chucking an "e" after them? We oughtn't go round transliterating German: they use the same alphabet ... at least they do if you think of it in terms of the German, Icelandic, French, English, etc. alphabets' each being a subset of a larger extended Latin alphabet.

Here's the results of some searches I did on Google ... although they're not even that reliable because I did some searches more than once and there was about 10% varience in the results. And, of course, Google web searches are not the be all and end all of how stuff is spelt. But for what they're worth, here they are.

English only
Gerhard Schröder 41 700
Gerhard Schroeder 616 000
Gerhard Schroder 12 300

The whole web
Gerhard Schröder 510 000
Gerhard Schroeder 310 000
Gerhard Schroder 19 500

As you can see, about half of the sites that deformed the German Chancellor's name were English-language ones whilst the English-language sites only about an eighth of those which got the spelling right.

English only
Erwin Schrödinger 9080
Erwin Schroedinger 4790
Erwin Schrodinger 7910

The whole web
Erwin Schrödinger 24 600
Erwin Schroedinger 6100
Erwin Schrodinger 9940

This German scientist faired a bit better, at least the people making web-sites about him had a greater tendency to spell his name correctly.

What do you think?
Lana   Thursday, October 02, 2003, 04:32 GMT
The two dots are called an umlaut. In German it is correct to put an 'e' after the vowel if you can't type the umlaut.
Schröder = Schroeder <== both are acceptable in German
Tür = Tuer (door)
Also you can use 'ss' instead of ß if necessary
Jim   Thursday, October 02, 2003, 05:47 GMT
Thanks for the info.

I wasn't sure whether the word umlaut refered to the two dots or just one of those letters with them on top.

I never knew that it was acceptable in German to put an 'e' after the vowel-letter either.

However, Lana, you write "if you can't type the umlaut". What if you're not typing but writing by hand? Is this allowance extended to handwriting or is it only made in cases where the umlaut (or "ß" for that matter) is just impossible?

Surely, most if not all of those people who made those sites could have managed an umlaut. I don't have all that fancy stuff on this machine but I get by.
Tom   Thursday, October 02, 2003, 15:02 GMT
When typing German messages, I don't use the umlauts or the ß, because they're a pain to type. However, I've noticed that Germans prefer to use the umlauts in e-mail messages, if possible.
Pentatonic   Thursday, October 02, 2003, 17:43 GMT
Tom, perhaps you don't realize that Germans have those letters on their keyboard :) If they use a keyboard that doesn't, then they usually use the two letter combinations.
Lana   Thursday, October 02, 2003, 18:43 GMT
I would think that in handwriting you would naturally use the umlaut. I do know that in Swiss German, they never use the ß but always use 'ss'.

Don't forget that before the web and ASCII there were typewriters, Telex, etc. so I imagine that is when it started, but I don't really know how the convention developed.
Jim   Thursday, October 02, 2003, 23:40 GMT
Good point about the typewriters, Telex, etc. you can't exactly cut and paste if that's what you're using.
mjd   Thursday, October 02, 2003, 23:44 GMT
I remember hearing once that one will often see the "e" after the vowel on old German writings (like on the tombs of kings etc.) Germans have told me that both are completely acceptable, but in today's computer age, I'll usually put in the extra effort and type in the correct accent marks.
A.S.C.M.   Friday, October 03, 2003, 00:03 GMT
You know, people, it's time to change your keyboard's imput locale to German. With the German imput locale, you can easily type umlauts and accents all over the place because the keyboard has a key specially for adding the é and è accents to letters and also has the characters äöüß, plus the extra bonuses ²,³,€, and µ. Heh! NO copying and pasting!!!

The UK and US keyboards are practically useless if you want to type anything in a foreign langauge with accents because Britons and Americans are completely enclosed in their ivory tower of English domination. Hmmm? Should I be saying that? After all, I'm a naturalised Briton. Yet, I was born in Germany so maybe I can consider myself a German.
mjd   Friday, October 03, 2003, 00:26 GMT
It's a pain at first, but once you learn the "Alt 0 ***" code, it's not too hard anymore.
mjd   Friday, October 03, 2003, 00:33 GMT
What's a real pain when it comes to the accent marks is when one has to type a paper in another language. I have to go through the entire paper again and "alt 0 **" all of the proper accent marks in.
Jay   Friday, October 03, 2003, 01:31 GMT
You could reprogram your keyboard and assign that to a key...couldn't you?
Jim   Friday, October 03, 2003, 01:49 GMT

Sure, you could ... if you are more of a computer wiz than I am ... and if it's your computer to reprogram ... and you could be bothered. But, on the other hand, if you are publishing stuff, perhaps you should.
Lana   Friday, October 03, 2003, 01:51 GMT
I have my keyboard set to US International so I can easily type most characters with accents or umlauts, áéíóú,äüöß, ¿¡, etc. I just use Right-Alt key with the letter, or use ' + letter for accent, " + letter for umlaut.
Or course I am still limited to the Latin character set.

A.S.C.M., now you are *really* getting carried away when you see conspiracy even in keyboard configurations, LOL. Every country has different keyboard layouts tailored to their language. Should I say Germans are trying to dominate the world by having German keyboards?
Clark   Friday, October 03, 2003, 02:00 GMT
When I had a German friend stay with me for a week during this last summer, she said that only a couple of lettes were different from the German keyboard when she was writing on the English keyboard.