• Germany's news in English

German firms ditch umlauts for global trade

The Local · 29 Aug 2013, 09:53

Published: 29 Aug 2013 09:53 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The umlaut - Ä, Ö and Ü – which has the aural effect of adding an E after a letter, is proving problematic for German exporters, particularly in Asia.

It is disappearing from the names of the country’s export-dependent firms who fear that it is difficult for consumers to pronounce and is tricky for people to use in online searches.

The umlaut is used in the spelling of top German export brands such as Kärcher, Würth, Jägermeister and Löwenbräu.

But globalisation has already led some to drop their umlauts to make their names easier for those who don't speak German to swallow. Re-insurance firm Münchener Rück calls itself Munich Re abroad, while Dürr, a world leader in car assembly plants, has changed its spelling to Durr.

Dürr spokesman Mathias Christen said the Ü had initially given the company a strong identity. But he said the umlaut could fall foul to the internet age with different spellings being used online. The website is durr.com rather than duerr.com.

Removing the umlaut also helps foreigners pronounce the name, according to Dürr’s head of human resources in Brazil, Alex Cruz.

“We know that abroad the umlaut is problematic,” said Sybille Kircher from marketing agency Nomen International in Düsseldorf. “Names need to be found quickly on the internet and need to be pronounced easily over the telephone.”

Jägermeister has had a similar debate in China over whether to drop the umlaut from its name. They decided to change the name to Ye Ge meaning “Wild Boy”.

Story continues below…

Spokeswoman Astrid van Delden said: “The umlaut and its pronunciation is definitely an issue abroad. Most consumers don’t use the full name of the product.”

DPA/The Local/tsb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
These are Germany's top ten universities
The new library of Freiburg University. Photo: Jörgens.mi / Wikimedia Commons

These are the best universities in all of Germany - at least according to one ranking.

Introducing Swabians - 'the Scots of Germany'
Photo: DPA

These Southern Germans have quite a reputation in the rest of the country.

Woman sues dentist over job rejection for headscarf
Photo: DPA

A dentist in Stuttgart is being taken to court by a woman whom he rejected for a job as his assistant on the basis that she wears a Muslim headscarf.

Isis suspect charged with scouting Berlin attack sites
Photo: DPA

German federal prosecutors said Thursday they had brought charges against a 19-year-old Syrian man accused of having scouted targets in Berlin for a potential attack by the Isis terror group.

Berlin Holocaust memorial could not be built now: creator
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, in Berlin. Photo: DPA.

The architect of the Berlin Holocaust memorial has said that, if he tried to build the monument again today, it would not be possible due to rising xenophobia and anti-Semitism in Germany and the United States.

'Liberal' Germany stopping Europe's 'slide into barbarism'
Ian Kershaw. Photo: DPA

Europe is not slipping into the same dark tunnel of hate and nationalism that it did in the 1930s - mainly thanks to Germany - one of the continent's leading historians has said.

Eurowings strike to hit 40,000 passengers
Travelers impacted by the strike on Thursday wait at Cologne Bonn airport. Photo: DPA.

The day-long strike by a Eurowings cabin crew union is expected to impact some 40,000 passengers on Thursday as hundreds of flights have been cancelled.

Deutsche Bank reports surprise quarter billion profit
Photo: DPA

Troubled German lender Deutsche Bank reported Thursday a surprise €256-million profit in the third quarter, compared with a loss of more than six billion in the same period last year.

US 'warned Merkel' against Chinese takeover of tech firm
Aixtron HQ. Photo: DPA

The German government withdrew its approval for a Chinese firm to purchase Aixtron, which makes semiconductor equipment, after the US secret services raised security concerns, a German media report said Wednesday.

Long-vanished German car brand joins electric race
Photo: DPA

Cars bearing the stamp of once-defunct manufacturer Borgward will once again roll off an assembly line in north Germany from 2018, the firm said Wednesday.

10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd