online puts a full stop to umlaut

Online puts full stop to umlaut
Date: 31/08/2013
Words: 209
Source: AGE
Publication: The Age
Section: World
Page: 13
Germany may be the world’s third-biggest exporter, but its language has proved less popular abroad than its cars.
Now some German firms have decided the umlaut – the dotted accent added to the letters a, o, or u – is too vexing for foreigners and have begun to ditch it.

Mathias Christen, a spokesman for Durr, which makes products for the car industry, told the German news agency dpa: “The internet era has brought a new style of writing.”

For global business purposes, Durr is now spelt Durr and the website is durr.com. Similarly the insurer Munchener Ruck is Munich Re abroad, and the renaming even extends to individuals – Josef Kaser, now chief executive of Siemens, came back from a US stint as Joe Kaeser.

Sybille Kircher, of the branding agency Nomen International, said: “We know that abroad the umlaut is problematic. Names need to be found quickly on the internet and need to be pronounced easily over the telephone.”

The growth of exports to China may have sealed the umlaut’s fate. Jagermeister, the German liqueur, has renamed itself for the Chinese market as Ye Ge, meaning wild guy.

Astrid van Delden, Jagermeister’s spokesman, said: “Most of our consumers don’t use the full brand name.”

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