umlaut o͝om´lout [key] [Ger.,=transformed sound], in inflection , variation of vowels of the type of English man to men. In this instance it is the end product of the effect of a y (long since disappeared) that was present in the plural the y caused the vowel before the n to be pronounced higher and more forward in the mouth in the plural than in the singular eventually there was replacement of the vowel in the plural. Other examples are mouse, mice tooth, teeth to fall, to fell doom, deem. Umlaut is also called mutation and inflection. For the variation of sing, sang, see ablaut . Umlaut is also the name for the diacritical symbol placed above a vowel to indicate a sound change in Germanic languages, as in the German Fräulein and the Swedish fröken (see accent ).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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