Trema is a horizontal colon above a letter, as in French Noël. In principle, the points can be regarded as trema (Ä, Ö, Ü) by means of the German vowel letter, whereby they represent a changed pronunciation of the unmarked letter. The Trema is a diacritic sign. The diacritics are signs which are attached to letters and refer to a different emphasis or pronunciation.
The term is derived from ancient Greek (τρῆμα) and can be translated with the hole or point of the cube. This translation mainly refers to the optical character of the Trema when the hole or the eyes of the cube is referred to. Let’s look at exemplary Tremas.
(1) The author Anaïs Nin has a blue Citroën.
In the above example, the trema is on the i ()) of the first name as well as on the e (ë) of the French automobile brand. In either case, the diacritics cause the letter to be pronounced individually and not to be bound by the subsequent or previous ones. We speak Zi-tro-en and not Zi-trön. The first name of the author is therefore A-na-is spoken and not A-nais. Another example.
(2) Thomas has strong leadership qualities
In this example sentence, two trems are found in the noun leadership qualities. They sit on the vowel letter u and a and convert the vowels into the German umlauts ä and ü, which indicates such a changed pronunciation. The letters are not spoken separately, as in the previous example, but differently. This use is not only in German, but also in Hungarian.
(2) Such a graceful gnomium.
The above example shows a once possible, but of course outdated, spelling of the word “Gymnasium” (secondary school), which leads the student to university entrance. For already in the Middle Ages individual letters of the German alphabet (mostly i and y) were provided with such Tremas, in order to point to another pronunciation. In this case, the Trema means that the y is to be treated as a.
The examples refer to the two possible functions of the Trema. These functions apply in most cases, and only in some cases the horizontal colon means something quite different.
(1) If two vowel letters (a, e, i, o, u) follow one another and are not to be connected to a diphthong, but are to be spoken separately, the trema indicates that this letter is emphasized individually (diarese). In French or Spanish, the horizontal colon can point to the fact that a mute letter is emphasized at all.
(2) If the Trema is sitting on a vowel letter, it may indicate that it is pronounced differently. This rule applies in German to the umlauts (ä, ö, ü), but is also quite common in other languages. In the Middle Ages this was also true of the y-Trema.
Tremas as a diarese
As a diarese, the separate pronunciation of two successive vowels is called in phonetics. Without such a diarrhea, the vowels would form a diphthong and thus belong to a syllable. The diarrhea separates the two vowels, which is why they belong to different syllables and are spoken separately (→ Hiatus). In part, the diary is indicated orthographically by a trema.
This type of use is typical for French or Dutch. The function here is that vowels that follow one another are not spoken together. For example, at Dutch reunion, which means reunification, the u is spoken separately from e. However, this usage is not to be confused with the German umlaut, which affects the vowel quality.
In French, a diacritic sign can mean the same thing, but on the other hand it can affect surrounding letters. For example, if the trema is on an e or i, this can also be a pronounced pronunciation of a previous u. In the word sequence plus aiguë (pointed), the trema causes u and ë to merge into a vowel without it (augue), the u would remain mute.
Tremas and the vowel quality
The vowel quality is the way a vowel is shaped by the speaker. The vowels can be open and closed, deep or even spoken in the back. This information refers to the place of articulation in the speech device of the speaker. Tremas can change the vowel quality.
The German u is formed, for example, in the back of the oral cavity. If we express the letter aloud and clearly, we also notice it. On the contrary, the i is formed quite far forward. If the horizontal double point comes into play and the u to ü changes, the place of articulation changes. The letter u is formed in the front, similar to the i. The quality of the vowel has changed.
The vowel rectangle shows where in the mouth the individual vow