Here's Everything You've Ever Wanted to Knöw About the Umlaut

Arika Okrent of The Week recently shared eleven facts about everyone's favorite Germanic diaeresis.

If your knowledge of umlauts is restricted to the realm of heavy metal, Arika Okrent has a great article over at The Week to help fix that. In it, she shares eleven useful facts about everyone's favorite Germanic diaeresis.

For instance, those two dots placed above a vowel (ä, ö , ü) aren't actually umlauts. Those are diaereses. "Umlaut" refers to the sound made when a vowel is affected by another adjacent vowel. In German, it leads to a rounded pronunciation of the first vowel sound:

"Try this: make a u sound (an 'oo'). Now imagine there's an i-sound (an 'ee') coming up. Keep your lips completely frozen in u position while you try to say 'ee' with the rest of your mouth. You should feel the body of your tongue move forward and up in your mouth. Hold that u sound with your lips though! Good. That's an ü."

 If you're a language nerd like me, this stuff is gold.

Another fun factoid: according to Okrent, the umlaut was developed by Jacob Grimm (yes, of those Grimms), who created the word from the roots "um" (around) and "laut" (sound). Take a look at the piece (linked again below) to learn more about German grammar, the Big Mäc, and why metal umlauts aren't so metal after all.

Read more at The Week

Photo credit: Bernd Juergens / Shutterstock

NYTimes exposé reveals how Facebook handled scandals

Delay, deny and deflect were the strategies Facebook has used to navigate scandals it's faced in recent years, according to the New York Times.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The exhaustive report is based on interviews with more than 50 people with ties to the company.
  • It outlines how senior executives misled the public and lawmakers in regards to what it had discovered about privacy breaches and Russian interference in U.S. politics.
  • On Thursday, Facebook cut ties with one of the companies, Definers Public Relations, listed in the report.
Keep reading Show less

Russian reporters discover 101 'tortured' whales jammed in offshore pens

Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Russian news network discovers 101 black-market whales.
  • Orcas and belugas are seen crammed into tiny pens.
  • Marine parks continue to create a high-price demand for illegal captures.
Keep reading Show less

Unraveling the mystery behind dogs' floppy ears

Dogs' floppy ears may be part of why they and other domesticated animals love humans so much.

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Nearly all domestic animals share several key traits in addition to friendliness to humans, traits such as floppy ears, a spotted coat, a shorter snout, and so on.
  • Researchers have been puzzled as to why these traits keep showing up in disparate species, even when they aren't being bred for those qualities. This is known as "domestication syndrome."
  • Now, researchers are pointing to a group of a cells called neural crest cells as the key to understanding domestication syndrome.
Keep reading Show less