Archive for September 30th, 2011

September 30, 2011

Metal Umlaut

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A metal umlaut [oom-lout] (also known as röck döts) is a trema (in Germanic languages called Umlaut) that is sometimes used gratuitously or decoratively over letters in the names of hard rock or heavy metal bands—for example those of Mötley Crüe and Motörhead. Amongst English speakers, the use of umlaut marks and other diacritics with a blackletter style typeface is a form of foreign branding intended to give a band’s logo a Teutonic quality—denoting stereotypes of boldness and strength commonly attributed to ancient northern European peoples, such as the Vikings and Goths. Its use has been attributed to a desire for a ‘Gothic horror’ feel. The metal umlaut is not generally intended to affect the pronunciation of the band’s name.

These decorative umlauts have been parodied in film and fiction; in the mockumentary film ‘This Is Spinal Tap’ (spelled with an umlaut mark over the n and a dotless i), fictional rocker David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean) says, ‘It’s like a pair of eyes. You’re looking at the umlaut, and it’s looking at you.’

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