Tell The Truth But Tell It Slant

Removing Umlauts is a flat out lie. Instead, one should lie the Umlaut to the side.

This is how you become U:ber (For a habitual lier we can not stand, and hence can not be laid).
Historical note: An umlaut originated when parsimonius monks saving parchment started writing the "e" which frequently followed a vowel above that vowel. So is actually ae, and is usually written that way by German speakers when an umlaut is not available. Why invent a new standard? -- AonghusOhAlmhain

Because the written word cannot always be conveyed the same way in other, "hotter," media. Ask any speaker of Arabic, Farsi, Mandarin, or a zillion other languages that can't be transliterated to machine readable formats about that.

Fine. So create an ascii convention for them. But there is already one for umlauts, and has been since the days of teletypes. For a while, accented vowels in Irish ( ) were a problem, so the convention was created to use a/ o/ u/ e/ i/. Machine readable is not the problem, coding a language that has more characters than the available set is. So that is why there is unicode! I'm fairly sure Arabs, Chinese and Iranians have found an acceptable way of dealing with it in ascii. There were a couple of pages in greek using ascii here for a while.


A big difference between Sigmund Fraud and Sigmund Frud (or perhaps not so much after all...).

Hey, ever heard Will Shorts on NPR on Sunday morning? This guy loves to come up with conniving word puzzles that replace with e, etc. I just shut the radio off when he comes on.
I had hoped that this page would stimulate some discussion of how small variations from the truth would lead to larger distortions.

But in the mean time, perhaps we can examine the original statement again? If one has a medium in which it is not possible to convey data accurately then should one just allow the inaccuracy to stand? The original author had a unique solution: change the presentation of the data to match the capabilities of the medium in use. To do otherwise is "a flat out lie." Now, can we get comments on that? -- AnonymousDonor

What's unique about that? You do something similar every time you write "TeX" or "Goedel"; every time you draw a picture of a 3-dimensional scene on a 2-dimensional piece of paper; every time you tell a computer that pi is 3.141592653589793238; every time you whistle the tune of a piece of music, leaving out the harmony and variations of timbre. In some of these cases the way you "change the presentation of the data" is to leave things out. In others, it's something a bit more sophisticated, like turning an umlaut into an e.

So what's new in the original author's proposal? Only, so far as I can see, a suggestion (not made explicit, perhaps because then it would be clear how silly it is) that leaving things out is never the right approach. That may make sense for rendering accented text in ASCII (producing "de'ja` vu", "garc,on" and "nai:ve", for instance), but as a general principle it seems hopeless. What are we supposed to do about telling a computer the value of pi? If someone asks me how a piece of music goes, do I have to make sure that I hum or whistle every single note played by every instrument? That way lies madness. -- GarethMcCaughan

This smacks of FalseDichotomy, methinks. It is quite possible to modify one's presentation by fitting it to the immediate medium without this sort of "lie by exclusion" that you insinuate here. Please don't convert this discussion to such extremes of black and white. -- MartySchrader

The extremes are in the original contribution -- " a flat out lie", so I don't think it's a "conversion" as much as a continuation. -- AnonymousDonor

I'm not sure I understand, Marty. I'm not insinuating anything. (I'm not even very sure what it is that you think I am insinuating.) The examples I gave included at least two (namely, the first two) where the modification doesn't consist of "exclusion". It looks to me as if I'm trying to make things less black and white than the original author, not more. Perhaps it would help if you told me what false dichotomy you think I'm setting up. I'm not aware of doing that, but of course it's possible that I am doing but haven't noticed. -- GarethMcCaughan

I don't know, Gareth. I probably overreacted a little bit, but I was afraid of seeing the issue of presentation that doesn't match the medium dismissed out of hand. "You can't fix it, so ignore it." Way too many of my clients have take this approach in the past and it has always, always come back to byte 'em in the butt. To exclude certain data because the presentation medium doesn't offer a convenient way to express it is an example of the aforementioned "flat out lie." I would hope that technical professionals would have the courage to stand up to clients who think this practice is okay and give them a piece of our mind. Also, to offer a more difficult, but accurate, means of presenting the missing data. -- MartySchrader
"The truth is in the eyes of the beholder". Not only is beauty subjective, but also truth. Just as "Universal Beauty" will receive no universal acceptance, "Universal Truth" will also not find universal acknowledgement and acceptance. To umlat or not to umlat, that is not the question, it is rather who uses and who does not use umlats. The audience is composed of both. Let us not waste our time with meaningless positioning and noise. -- MarkRogers

Maybe your truth is subjective - mine doesn't depend on people to accept it for its objectivity. In any case, the point here is that umlauts are part of certain words, and as such it is a more faithful rendering to keep them. If I wrote Schro:dinger's name as Srodiner people might still understand who I mean, and some might not care, but that doesn't make it a good idea.

An expressive convention is created, adapted and used. It is used by the expressor to communicate to an audience. The truth is some take great care to hold to a convention, others do not. I do not umlaut, perhaps you do. How would you present his name to a Russian, a Chinese, an Arab, or to one who use the EsperantoLanguage? Is the expression convention to receive more importance than the expressed object? (Schro:dinger or Srodiner)
The title of this page is from the eponymous EmilyDickinson poem:

 Tell all the Truth but tell it slant---
 Success in Cirrcuit lies
 Too bright for our infirm Delight
 The Truth's superb surprise
 As Lightening to the Children eased
 With explanation kind
 The Truth must dazzle gradually
 Or every man be blind---

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