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Metal umlaut

Mötley Crüe's Hollywood Walk of Fame star, which shows the two metal umlauts used in the band's name

A metal umlaut (also known as röck döts[1]) is a diacritic that is sometimes used gratuitously or decoratively over letters in the names of hard rock or heavy metal bands—for example those of Blue Öyster Cult, Queensrÿche, Motörhead, The Accüsed and Mötley Crüe.

Among 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—connoting stereotypes of boldness and brutality presumably associated with Germanic and Nordic cultures. Its use has also been attributed to a desire for a "gothic horror" feel.[2] The metal umlaut is not generally intended to affect the pronunciation of the band's name.

Speakers of languages which use an umlaut to designate a pronunciation change may understand the intended effect, but perceive the result differently. When Mötley Crüe visited Germany, singer Vince Neil said the band couldn't figure out why "the crowds were chanting, Mutley Cruh! Mutley Cruh!"[3]

These decorative umlauts have been parodied in film and fiction; in the mockumentary film This Is Spın̈al Tap, 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."[4]

The umlaut

The German word Umlaut roughly translates as 'changed sound' or 'sound shift', as it is composed of um-, "around/changed", and Laut, "sound". In standard usage (outside heavy metal) the Germanic umlaut version of a vowel is pronounced differently from the normal vowel; the letters u and ü represent distinct sounds, as do o and ö as well as a and ä. The sounds represented by umlauted letters are typically front vowels (front rounded vowels in the case of ü and ö).

Ironically, these sounds tend to be perceived as "weaker" or "lighter" than the vowels represented by un-umlauted u, o, and a,[citation needed] and thus in languages like German which use it normally, the umlaut does not evoke the impression of strength and darkness which its sensational use in English is intended to convey. Therefore, the foreign branding effect of the metal umlaut is dependent on the beholder's background. Speakers of such languages may understand the intended effect but perceive the result differently from speakers of languages in which umlauts are rarely used.

Band or album name examples

English-speaking countries

Other countries

  • Аквариум - Russian rock band, whose name is stylized as "Åквариум" on their logo, and they use "Å" as their symbol.
  • Crashdïet – Swedish glam metal band.
  • Die Ärzte – German punk band, have used three dots over the "Ä" since their 2003 album Geräusch. The normal two-dot umlaut, Die Ärzte, is simply correct German for The Doctors.
  • Fälkor - Mexican pop punk band.
  • Flëur – Ukrainian ethereal wave band.
  • Girugämesh – Japanese rock band often stylise their name with an umlaut over the a.
  • Infernal – Danish electronic band, was stylized as Infërnal on their album Waiting for Daylight.
  • Insidiöus Törment – Liechtenstein-based old school heavy metal band who use gratuitous umlauts, but pronounce them nonetheless.
  • KobaïanFrench progressive rock band Magma sing in this constructed language, which has many diereses in its written form.
  • Közi – Japanese rock musician.
  • Lörihen – Argentinian heavy metal band.
  • Mägo de Oz – Spanish folk metal band.
  • Moottörin Jyrinä – Finnish heavy metal band, the umlaut in Moottörin is gratuitous, but the one in Jyrinä is not.
  • Motör Militia – Bahraini thrash metal band.
  • Mütiilation – French black metal band.
  • Наӥв – Russian punk band, with two dots over и in their logo (like a dieresis in the word naïve).
  • Püdelsi - Polish rock band.
  • Rinôçérôse – French electronica band.

Video games and books

Other products with decorative umlauts

See also

References

  1. ^ "The full Mötley". The Age. 2 December 2005. Retrieved 8 September 2016. In the world of heavy metal, the umlaut - otherwise known as röck dots ... 
  2. ^ Garofalo, Rebee (1997). Rockin' Out: Popular Music in the USA. Allyn & Bacon. p. 292. ISBN 0-205-13703-2.  "Some groups, for example Blue Öyster Cult and Motörhead, added gratuitous umlauts to their names to conjure up a more generic gothic horror, a practice that continued into the 1980s with Mötley Crüe and others."
  3. ^ Eric Spitznagel (November 27, 2009). "Motley Crue's Vince Neil is Finally Bored With Boobs". Vanity Fair. 
  4. ^ CMJ New Music Monthly Oct 2000 [books.google.com]

External links