Heavy Metal Umlaut

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"Ït's lïke ä päir öf ëyes. Yöu're löoking ät thë umläut, änd ït's löoking ät yoü."
Dävid St. Hübbins, This Is Spinal Tap

Ëvërÿthïng's mörë mëtäl wïth ümläüts. Maybe it's becäuse they can make änything look vaguely Germänic, and everything söunds scarier in German. Or maybe it's jüst because they look cöol, especially whën they're printed in a Göthic typeface. Either way, the diaeresis has becöme the text equivalent of giving ä Devil-hörned salute.

Despite the title, the Heävy Mëtal Ümlaut is sometimes used in music genres besides metäl. Othèr unnæcessåry diácrîtiçal mârks, Faцx Cyяillic, and gratuitøus slashed ø's alsø shów up occâsioñally in mûsic, althøugh theý're Иot as pøpular or icônic of metäl as the ümläüt. Excessive use of this trope becomes £33†.

It must be nöted that this tröpe is about the gratuitoüs usage of umlauts, not "any usage of umlauts". Some artists actually have an ümlaut in their band or personal names. Einstürzende Neubauten and Bjork are therefore not examples of this trope.

Incidentally, the only letters in German that are umlauts are ä, ö and ü. They are pronounced, respectively, as: the e in bed (like a combination of a & e); i in sir (o + e); and a sound best described as a French u, made by forming the letter o with your lips, and voicing "eeeee" (u + e). The bands should therefore be pronounced "Mo-tuhrr-head" and "Blue Uhy-ster cult". If you have a non-rhotic accent, the first two sounds are changed to "air" and "ur".

In common Metal parlance, however, gratuitous umlauts are not pronounced, but this hasn't stopped fans of Queensrÿche asking about the Ÿ.

Bon̈us poin̈ẗs for Um̈lauẗs over con̈son̈an̈ẗs.

Üsed very frequently in parödies; in fact it's well on its way to Discredited Tropedom if it's not there already.

Not to be confused with other uses of diaereses (also called trema), in which diacritic marks identical to umlauts can appear in some English words. A diaeresis was traditionally used in vowel pairings where the second vowel is pronounced in a separate syllable, hence they are found in archaic spellings of words such as coöperate, preëmptive or Zodiäc. This usage is largely obsolete, though it is still part of the house style of The New Yorker magazine and MIT Technology Review, but survives in words like naïve which are borrowed from languages which do use diaereses to varying degrees.

Subtrope of Myspeld Rokband. See also Xtreme Kool Letterz.

Examples of Heavy Metal Umlaut include:

Cömic Bööks[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In a non-musical example, the DC Comics universe used to have a city called Blüdhaven, which was to Gotham City as New Jersey is to New York and was so dark and corrupt it grew an ümlaut. It mainly appeared in Nightwing and Batgirl, but was eventually destroyed during the Infinite Crisis crossover event.
    • The city appeared in the DCAU as well, in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Grudge Match".


Fïlm[edit | hide]

  • Brüno.
  • Parodied in This Is Spinal Tap, where the band's name [dead link] has an ümlaut over the "n".
    • Unicode represents it as "Spın̈al Tap", since not only does the n have an ümlaut, but the i has no dot over it. While the dotless i does exist in Unicode (for example, in Turkish), the n with an umlaut doesn't, which makes it a bit trickier to type (you have to use a "combining diaeresis" character). (For the record, the character n̈ does in fact exist in some Mesoamerican languages, where it represents the same sound as English -ng.)
  • In Hot Tub Time Machine with Mötley , Lou's multi-platinum-selling band in which he rose to fame after deciding to stay in the past.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail takes this Up to Eleven with the Swedish subtitles under the opening credits.

Lïtërätürë[edit | hide]

  • In the novel Zodiac by Neal Stephenson, a local metal band is mentioned, and off-handedly dismissed by a metal fan as a "two-umlaut band".
  • The setting of the Inheritance Trilogy Cycle is called Alagaësia, pronounced: Ala-gay-sea-ah. The ümlaut over the e is completely superfluous and does not affect the pronunciation of the name in any way.
    • Actually, in the Ancient Language (language of the elves), which is the constructed language Christopher Paolini basically ripped off of old Norse, the diaeresis represents the elongation of the sound (e.g. ä = ay). For example, he explains in one of his appendices about the shift from the elven Äenora (ayenora) to the more human Anora (ahnora). Christopher Paolini made a comment about how Alagaësia is supposed to be pronounced Al-ah-gay-ee-zee-uh, but when us English speakers pronounce it, we mostly drop the ë because it sounds relatively the same without it, plus it's awkward to say.
    • It gets even stranger: In German, it does change the pronunciation - from Al-la-gä-si-a[1] to Al-la-ga-e-si-a.[2] The problem? The first one is the intended one.
  • Rodrick's band Löded Diper from Diary of a Wimpy Kid (though Greg says he probably doesn't know how to spell "Loaded Diaper" anyway).


Lïvë-Äctïön TV[edit | hide]

Cröe: No no no, it's "Creuw"! It's very simple: "Creuw"!
Mike: "Crow-ew?" "Crow-ee-ew?"
Cröe: You've got to purse your beak, Mike.

Mike: Hey, where's the umlaut?

  • The Colbert Report has "The Wørd".
  • In the Finnish heavy metal comedy tv-show Pelkkää Lihaa (non-gratuitous use of umlauts), the protagonists' band is called Irön Dragön which is funny, because Finnish uses umlauts.
    • Incidentally, band names with Heavy Metal Umlauts on them tend to look very silly to Finnish-speakers, because they how to actually pronounce umlauted letters. The same is true for speakers of most other languages that use umlauts (German, Swedish etc).
      • Yes. Umlauts are seen as weaker versions of their parent vowel in German.
    • Norwegian and Danish does not actually use umlauts, but everyone knows (due to exposure to Swedish and to a lesser degree the other languages that use them) that ö is equivalent to ø, ä to æ and so on.
  • The Swedish Chef's rendition of "Popcorn" is spelled "Pöpcørn".
  • ASS MÖDE


Müsïc[edit | hide]

  • Blue Oyster Cult is the Tröpe Mäker, and possibly the Ür Exämple.
  • Motorhead
    • There was a funny real-life incident when Motörhead was playing in Germany, and the fans chanted the bands name as it's pronounced in German.
    • In fairness if English used umlauts Motörhead would probably be about right. "Mo-tuhrr-head" (see the top of the page) is how many, if not most, people in England say it.
      • A German-speaker here would like to disagree and assure the reader that "Motör" and the English "Motor" sound different. (Which, granted, may not be due to the pronounciation of the ö alone, but the fact that it implies to the reader that it's a german-ish word, with a rolled R and the stress on the second syllable...well it's complicated.)
    • And within Motörhead, their guitarist Würzel
  • Motley Crue
    • As with the Motörhead example, German crowd: "MU-wet-leh CREW-eh!" (Yeah, that sounds really tough and hardcore.)
    • Which is even more gratuitous, considering that "ue" would be used in type if the "ü" glyph is unavailable.
  • Queensrÿche. Lampshaded by Geoff Tate in an interview:

"The ümlaut over the 'y' has haunted us for years. We spent eleven years trying to explain how to pronounce it."

  • Müdecrüde the heavy metal band that the Tough Customers (the playground bullies—who are secretly actually decent, sweet kids) listen to on Arthur.
  • 80's Hawkwind soundalikes Underground Zerø
  • The Spanish band Mägo de Oz - ¡Cabroneeeees!
  • German punk rock band Die Arzte (The Doctors), whose name in normal German is written with an 'Ä' already, tend to use an A with three dots. (Also, they decided on the name because there wasn't a band with Ä as the first letter back then.)
  • Maximo Park probably counts as gratuitous since the ümlaut apparently doesn't change the pronunciation in any way.
  • Used/parodied by the Canadian group Moxy Früvous.
  • Though it's not normally part of the band name, the cover of Kid 606's Shout at the Döner has an umlaut over the zero in the band logo, since the artwork parodies Motley Crue's Shout At The Devil.
    • Do they know that 'Döner' or 'Döner Kebap' is a popular Turkish meat dish?
  • And then there is of course the Finnish rock band Leningrad Cowboys, infamous for pseudo-Cyrillic spellings like Lɘиiиɢяad Cowʙoys.
    • Kypck (Kursk) plays with this as the spelling looks just weird but is actually correct Cyrillic. Although their website uses Mock Cyrillic.
  • The eighties alternative rock group Hüsker Dü. They used the name because they didn't want to be pigeonholed as just another hardcore band.
  • Rap duo Dälek (pr. "die-uh-lek") use the umlaut to combine the word "dialect" (as pronounced in exaggerated rap dialect) with the popular Doctor Who villains. A neat little three-layer-cake of a pun.
    • As in his lyric "Deadverse spoken with broken dälek"
    • (Which means it's actually a diaresis, and not strictly a heavy-metal umlaut)
    • Incidentially, it's also Serbian for "far away".
  • One band deliberately misspelled "cornet" as "corønet", parodying both the Heavy Metal Umlaut and a very common misspelling of "cornet" (which spellcheckers won't pick up).
  • Nǽnøĉÿbb Œrğ Vbëřř Ħōlökäävs Ŧ. How is this pronounced? The expected answer is "Nanocyborg Uberholocaust". The real answer is that you just wince and look away.
  • The Canadian Celtic/Appalachian/Acadian/folk band Scrüj MacDuhk (now either disbanded or simply known as The Duhks, depending on your point-of-view) is a decidedly non-metal example of this.
  • Pop singer Jason Derülo is also a non-metal version of this. His real name is Jason Desrouleaux.
    • this is correct, in Modern French, which uses the umlaut to indicate that letter have been dropped
  • R&B singer and actress Mýa is an example of this not applied just to performers, because Mýa is her birth name.
  • Rapper Jay Z had a version of this (Jaÿ-Z) on his very first album, Reasonable Doubt.
  • Subverted with the Cirque Du Soleil song "Pokinoï". This is a legitimate use of the symbol, but it's a diaeresis for French: it shows that it's pronounced with an "oy" rather than a "wa".
  • Röyksopp is a Norwegian electronica duo. The reason for the alternative orthography is not clear, but one might wonder if it has something to do with how "røyksopp" simply is the Norwegian word for "puffball".
  • Daniel Amos (an alternative rock band you could only mistake for metal if you've never heard any metal before) released an album named Calhöun. On the album cover, they abbreviated their name as "Dä".
  • Green Jellÿ. They were Green Jellö until the trademark infringement suit. The band states that the "ÿ" in their name is pronounced like an "o," so their name is still pronounced "Green Jell-O."
  • Visual Kei band Girugämesh proves that even Japanese bands can rock the purely aesthetic umlaut.
  • GWAR parodied this with the song titles on their album Hell-O: Almost every song on the album has at least one gratuitous umlaut or other diacritical mark in it - "I'm in Löve (With a Deåd Dog)" for instance.
  • Lady Gaga's song "Yoü and I."
  • Goth Rock band The Crüxshadows are another non-metal example.

Nëwspäpër Cömïcs[edit | hide]

  • Bloom County. Deathtöngue. "A bird on the bass, a tongue - what a face! At best, the music can best be described as lame..."


Vïdëö Gämës[edit | hide]

  • One of the characters in Guitar Hero is named Lars Ümlaüt.
  • Rock Band 2 has an achievement called "Needs More Umlauts!", which is awarded the first time you create a band logo.
    • This is possibly a double reference to Blue Oyster Cult, who started this trope and gained more popularity through SNL's "Needs More Cowbell" sketch, which the Rock Band games make a LOT of references to.
  • The video game Ečstati̊ca features a heavy metal caron as well as a an I with a ring (which doesn't exist in Unicode and has to be composed using a combining character). Cover art here.
  • A notable non-music example is Inrenes from Chrono Cross, where this is her Verbal Tic.
  • The Heavy Metal game Brutal Legend, starring Jack Black as a roädie who gets sucked into a fantasy world fueled by The Power of Rock, features a Heavy Metal Umlaut in its title.
    • Söme peöple wonder how the title of this game will be pronounced in Germany once it's released.
      • Loudly.
    • Parodied by Yahtzee in his review of the game, where he consistently tries to pronounce it "Brew-tal Legend". In the credits he states that since he's studied German he's not letting the umlaut go unpronounced.
      • Done so very well. If you want to sample some "ü", listen to him. If you couldn't guess from the article, English speakers tend to have problems with it.
    • In Xbox Magazine, the creator confessed that the umlaut is there solely because, as a game about heavy metal, it just HAD to be.
    • Bennett The Sage's review video has, in its description box on YouTube, "Ünnëcëssäry ümläüts? Höw vëry mëtäl!"
  • The World Ends With You features the band Def Märch.
  • Inverted with Einhänder. The title is correct German, but the narrator incorrectly pronounces the A as a non-umlaut (back) vowel.
  • The first mark in The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile is the banker... named Barön Ömötö. However, the one voice clip that plays (an advertisement) pronounces all the ö's long, making his name sound like oe-MOE-toe.


Wëb Cömïcs[edit | hide]

  • Deathmøle from Questionable Content.
  • In PvP, most of the main cast are members of the fictional band "Djörk"... "Nerd rock forever", as one of them put it. Originally, they wanted to call it "Umlaüt" but it turned out to have been already taken by a real band.
  • Webcomic Ugly Hill poked fun at this.
  • Used repeatedly in Erfworld where the protagonist's army consists of a medley of heavy metal references.


Wëb Öriginäl[edit | hide]

  • In Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People: Baddest of the Bands, Strong Bad forms a band with the King of Town and Homsar in his effort to win the Battle Royale of the Bands (reluctantly, since they were the only people not already in the contest). They end up calling themselves D-Ö-I.
    • Also, when looking at the banner for Bubs' and Coach Z's band, Two-O-Duo, Strong Bad mentions that the name would "be much cooler with a few umlauts".
    • One Halloween cartoon had, as a Shout-Out to Motley Crue, Homestar selling a concoction labeled "Witch's Brüe".
  • Complained about in this Metaquotes entry.
  • In the Escape Velocity data files, every EV-specific resource type includes a gratuitous umlaut (e.g. "shïp" for spacecraft, "düde" for named characters, etc), to avoid collisions with the built-in system resources.


Wëstërn Änïmätïön[edit | hide]

  • Home Movies: Duane's garage band SCÄB, with music by (the Real Life) Brendon Small, whose other cartoon band Dethklok is curiously ümlaut-free.
    • Äctüällÿ, Brëndön's bänd is sömetïmës wrïttën äs "Dethkløk" änd Î thïnk Î've sëën ït wrïttën wïth än ümläüt övër thë 'e' äs wëll.
  • Spümcø, the animation studio that originally produced Ren and Stimpy.
  • Phineas and Ferb includes a recurring '90s Hair Band called Love Händel.
    • Genius Bonus? Taken together, the misspelling and the umlaut suggest Georg Frederich Händel.
  • In an episode of Mucha Lucha, Rikochet is defeated by an American wrestler whose overpowering heavy metal theme music is played by a band called "Oom Lowt."


Rëäl Lïfë[edit | hide]

  • Häagen-Dazs ice cream (which is not actually Scandinavian). It appears to be, on the face of it, to be half-Danish, half-Polish, with a gratuitous umlaut thrown in for good measure.
    • It seems to be a trend. There are also the yogurt chains Freshëns and Yogen Früz.
    • The reason it looks Danish to English eyes is the similarity with "Copenhagen". A real You Fail Linguistics Forever, because the Danish name of Copenhagen is actually København.
  • "Möben"- or rather, Moben, a well-known British kitchen maker- responded to complaints of passing itself off as German by pointing out that the "umlauts" are not part of the name itself, merely an "artistic device" that formed a part of their logo and "that any resemblance with an umlaut is coincidental".
  • There's also the Swedish homewares chain (and, naturally, IKEA clone) Clas Ohlsson, whose British advertising goes in for these. "Usefulshöpp" (approximately "usefulshurp"), anyone?
    • And for those wondering, the Swedish word for "shop" (shöpp) is actually "butik".
  • Änd ïf mänüällÿ äddïng ümläüts ïs töö müch för ÿöü, thërë's ä Përl mödülë tö dö ït för ÿöü.
  • The Bödyplex gyms in and around Atlanta, Georgia. They're universally referred to as "Bootyplex" by locals.
  • Android phones tries to earn extra credit for not only putting an umlaut on an r, but by putting it inside the r instead of above it.
    • Lööks mörë lïkë tÿpögräphïcäl Lüll Dëstrüctïöün thän trÿïng tö äppëär mëtäl, äctüällÿ.
  • Ävërtëd in the Pörtügüësë längüägë, the umlauts were banned in the last orthographic reform.
    • Fäil mövë, as "cinqüenta" (seencuentah) and "cinquenta" ("seenkentah") dö nöt rësült in the säme prönünciätiön. The ümlaüts märked whën the Q and the G wöuld make differënt sounds, thüs were far away from uselessdom. The Ç, on the other hand...
  • Inverted with the Baroque composer George Frederic Handel, who anglicised his name (thus dropping the umlat) in Britain. In Germanic countries, he still went by Georg Friedrich Händel.
  • In Oulunkylä, a suburb of Helsinki, it is sometimes possible to see a car that looks very much like a police car. Only instead of Poliisi it says Rosvå. Not quite purely decorative, however, as å is pronounced the same as o, only longer, so it almost sounds like rosvo, the Finnish word for thief.
  1. German pronunciation
  2. yes, still German pronunciation