Re: Koller, Kaylor, Keller, Oshkosh Northwestern, June 13.
There are many regional variations of language in Germany just as there are in the U.S. "Ah caint" is not quite the same as "I can't." The name Koeller would have immigrated with the pronunciation its bearers had used in Germany, which was "right" as far as they were concerned.
However, there is a standard German just as there is a standard English and none of the disputed Koller, Kaylor, Keller pronunciations is "right" if "standard" is the criterion (sorry, Inky and others). One is a variant form of the German o- umlaut, those two dots we sometimes see above German vowels a, o, and u. The dots indicate a change in the vowel pronunciation. To produce a perfect o-umlaut, say "a" (as in hay), don't move your tongue or your jaw, pucker your lips, and try to say the "a" again.The result will be the same as the vowel sound in the word "curler" or in the first syllable of our far-from-phonetic pronunciation of "colonel."
But what complicates the Koller, Kaylor, Keller controversy is the fact that that there is long o-umlaut and a short o- umlaut. If we can shorten the "u" in curler and stress it a bit harder than usual, we have the correct standard German pronunciation for our street name. Since the vowel sound in this particular phonetic situation is not quite natural for the American tongue, however, we should let the variations continue their battle. May the best imperfect umlaut win.
Prof. (Emeritus) of German, UWO