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13 July 2014

Without that Umlaut

German words sometimes contain letters ä, ö, or ü. Sometimes when the umlauts are not used an additional "e" is used, resulting in "ae," "oe," or "ue." Because of this Müller can be styled as Mueller.

Keep this in mind when researching those German last names.


  1. Thankyou so much for that - it clarifies a lot.

  2. I find the i-j combination the most frustrating in Dutch & German names & places. There is the simple ij. There is the ij ligature where the handwritten letters look like a y with a diæresis (the English word for umlaut). There is the simple y, and there is the y with a diæresis (hex 152) ÿ. I found one case where the name began with an IJ ligature!

    My father-in-law changed his name from Meijer to Meyer. I accused him of simply erasing the 2 dots from the cursive i and j.

    How does one know which one is correct in any situation?

    1. It's really difficult to know what is correct and what is not, particularly when a person immigrates to a county with a different language. Many immigrants to the US simply choose to anglicize their name in some way or another. I generally go with the spelling the person used the majority of their life and make a notation in my notes as to what the original spelling probably was or what the other renderings might have been.

      I have some families who simply dropped the diæresis or translated their name.