Saturday, July 10, 2010

the deal with the ä and the ö

Babs told me about this very funny bit in the current issue of The New Yorker. Nora Ephron makes fun of Stieg Larsson. Only problem? Ephron doesn't know that a Swedish keyboard contains the actual å, ä, and ö letters. The title of the piece is The Girl Who Fixed the Umlaut, and Ephron, along with every other American, is stuck in the belief that the two dots above the o or a, to make the ä and ö, are umlauts. They are not. They are parts of the letter. Ä and ö aren't as and os gone wild, they are real stand-alone letters.


Well, umlauts indicate vowel shifts. Some uses of å, ä and ö in modern Swedish can be traced back to vowel shifts in the original German (from which lots of Swedish words were borrowed), but in some instances (and to the general public) å, ä and ö only represent sounds. (That was probably more than you wanted to know, but it's Saturday and you have the time.)

Here is a long complicated wikipedia article on the matter. And read Nora Ephron's piece. It's super funny.


Anonymous said...


Clearly, in keeping with the parody and the books themselves, Nora Ephron should have included the long, complicated info from the wikipedia article.

Tom is almost through the second book. In his words: I have about 20 pages left that take 100 pages.

Lotta K said...

Her descriptions from Stockholm are hilarious. There is so much sense of place for a Swede, and so much unnecessary info about islands and neighborhoods with complicated names for everyone else. Those novels were really not written to be translated I think. Also: your husband is a very funny guy.

Anonymous said...

Wow, at times I get lonely here in the States... being a fairly new american myself.

Lived in Lund until 2004... and live was good, but unweary.. I put it all on one card. I failed, but thats ok - my story is a different one.

Its hard to have a handful of friends, no family - in any sense... exposed in a way, and yet very... rouge I guess.