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The Gratuitous Umlaut

An umlaut is a diacritical mark consisting of two dots placed over a letter to alter pronunciation. However, the so-called "heavy metal umlaut" is used in the names of bands, such as Mötley Crüe and Motörhead, not to change pronunciation, but to evoke the stereotypes of boldness and strength commonly attributed to peoples whose languages incorporate such marks. It has since been widely parodied, including in the mockumentary This Is Spin¨al Tap. Which band first used a gratuitous umlaut?

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Article

The Gratuitous Umlaut

An umlaut is a diacritical mark consisting of two dots placed over a letter to alter pronunciation. However, the so-called "heavy metal umlaut" is used in the names of bands, such as Mötley Crüe and Motörhead, not to change pronunciation, but to evoke the stereotypes of boldness and strength commonly attributed to peoples whose languages incorporate such marks. It has since been widely parodied, including in the mockumentary This Is Spin¨al Tap. Which band first used a gratuitous umlaut?

Last updated on Saturday, 23rd September 2017

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