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What is correct: Glashütte, Glashutte, or Glashuette?

July 25 2002 at 1:57 PM

Marcus Hanke  (Login mhanke)
Brand Forum Moderators


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One of the peculiarities of the German language are called "Umlauts". These are standard letters a, o und u with two small points added above them: ä, ö and ü. These letters are very frequent in our language, and unfortunately it is very difficult to explain their spelling to any non-German speaker. The "ä" is quite easy, in German it is spelled as "a" (e.g. in "to hAve") is in English. Ü and ö are much more diffcult; in fact, I am not aware of any English word which could help me explaining their spelling.

For "ü", the nearest would be the quickly spoken combination of "u" and "i", but even this is rather distant from the real "ü" in German.

When writing about German companies and institutions, we encounter the problem of how to "translate" the Umlauts in their names and designations. "Glashütte" is the most important example for this forum. Since common (English) keyboards do not feature any Umlauts, one has to search for an alternative. Mostly, the Umlaut is simply replaced with the standard a, o or u, resulting in the well-known "Glashutte".

In German language, however, "u" and "ü" are spelled completely different. The "u" is spelled like "ou" in English. But there is a traditional alternative used everytime when it is impossible to use a correct Umlaut: The combination of the standard letter with an "e": ae corresponds with ä, oe with ö, and ue with ü. Grammatically correct it would therefore be to write "GlashUEtte". However, old habits die hard, and the common truncation of the Umlaut in English writings is very likely to be continued.

It might be wrong writing "GlashUtte", but it is common, and when searching on the web, this spelling will produce many results. But don't forget that many, especially German speakers, will spell it differently, "GlashUEtte" with "ue". So remember using this word, too, when searching information on the web, which will improve the search results.

Marcus

 
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