Those wretched little dots!

18 July 2013
door Regina Coeli

It’s amazing how two innocent little dots can affect a language! The umlaut (¨) which appears above certain vowels in German words not only changes the pronunciation of the word but can also drastically change the meaning of the word. Have a look at the following examples:

‘Drucken’ or ‘drücken’?
Wir drucken eine Zeitung. (to print) We are printing a newspaper.
Die Kinder drücken die Mutter. (to cuddle) The children are cuddling their mother.

‘Schon’ or ‘schön’
Wissen sie schon, wie schön ich ihren Entwurf finde? (already, beautiful) Have you already heard that I think your design is beautiful?

‘Tauschen’ or ‘täuschen’
Wollen Sie die Briefmarken tauschen oder täuschen wir uns? (to exchange, to be mistaken) Would you like to exchange the stamps or are we mistaken?

And what about the following?
Er wurde vor zwei Monaten Direktor. (to become) He became a Director two months ago.
Er würde gerne Direktor. (would like to be) He would like to be the Director.

Wir hatten einen Hund. (to have) We had a dog.
Wir hätten gerne einen Hund. (would like to have) We would like to have a dog.

Sie mochte Schokolade. (to like) She liked chocolate.
Sie möchte Schokolade. (to want, would like to have) She wants some chocolate. She would like to have some chocolate.

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