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German name pronunciation question

2195 Views 5 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Sweetest Confection
I am hoping some of you can help me out! We are considering the name Käthe for our little one coming in May (if it's a she) but I am wondering about pronunciation. The name book I have says KAY-teh, with a long a for the a umlaut. This seems correct to me, from what I remember of my college German - like Mädchen. But I have Slovenian friends who speak German who are telling me that an a umlaut is a short a "ah" sound. I know that some ä make an "eh" sound, like Häßlich. I just don't want to give my baby a name that we are pronouncing incorrectly! Any help would be appreciated!
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Go with yor first instinct. A High German umlaut over an 'A' will be pronounced like the 'a' in Mädchen.
There are, however, many many german dialects, and it could be that in certain regions (Austria, Bavaria especially) that this is pronounced differently.

But in High, correct dictionary German the name Käthe would be pronounced KAY-teh, like you thought.

A beautiful and rare name amidst all the Tims, Toms, and Emilys that are all the 'rage' here in Germany.
I'm a native speaker and am familiar with the name Kaethe. The name is related to 'Cate' and definitely has an "ae" which is pronounced as in 'ay', at least by most english speakers.
If you want to call me I can pronounce the name for you. Just pm me and I'll give you my number.

Beautiful, old name by the way. Are you familiar with the doll and toy manufacture Kaethe Kruse?
Thanks for your help, ladies! I have heard of Käthe Kruse, but am more familiar with the name from artist Käthe Kollwitz.
Is one spelling more common than the other? I like the look of Käthe more than Kaethe, but I hate to saddle an American kid with a foreign character. Plus, I'm not sure if our state (Iowa) even allows foreign characters on birth certificates.
The Umlaut and 'ae'-version are used interchangeably in German. We always write it with the Umlaut, but whenever that option is not available (as on my keyboard), you will use the 'ae', oe' or 'ue' option. It is essentially the same.
I have a last name with an Umlaut and it is a bit of a pain. I have used both versions and that has proven to be a bit of a problem on some documents. But this might be less of a deal in a first name, and if you decide beforehand which version you will use consistently.
Just a further clarification on the ae/ä stuff. The alternative spellings were created as alternative spellings for the situations when the special characters (ä, ö, ü, ß) aren't available (example: an American keyboard/typewriter) or where it's not appropriate to use them (example: internet addresses/urls/e-mail addresses where not every browser can properly interpret the character).

In regards to spelling your daughter's name, in Germany they will most often likely spell it 'Käthe', but in America, if the person is at all informed, it will most likely be spelled 'Kaethe'. (If the person's not informed, they may just spell it 'Kathe', not realising that the 'ä' and 'a' aren't similar.)

Anyway, in regards to the pronunciation of 'Käthe', my husband says the 'ä' is pronounced kinda like 'ay' but with just a tad more of a short 'e' sound.
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