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Hey, Brontë sisters. How the hell am I supposed to pronounce y’all’s name?

Umlauts are not toys.

BUT THEN

I did some looking up and discovered that this: ¨

Is not just an umlaut. The mark itself is a diacritic called a trema, and is used for two main purposes:

  • as an umlaut, a vowel-shift phenomenon also known as i-mutation; and
  • as a diaeresis, which indicates that adjoining letters should be pronounced separately, rather than as a diphthong or digraph

The second use, as a diaeresis, is what the Brontë family uses it for, indicating that their name is pronounced “brawn-tee” instead of “brawnt”.

You see? You learn shit when you try and make jokes about umlauts. You learn that a trema is used for more than you think! It’s not just for metal bands, boys and girls.

Off to learn more about language!



  1. whistlerian said: I went to Brontë house a few weeks ago. Here I generally hear people pronounce it as Bronté.
  2. justanotherwanderer said: They may have got the trema use right here, but there is a shop in Kincadine called the Röck Shöp… Unacceptable!
  3. dubiousmerchant posted this