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In official Ukrainian language German geographical names containing letter Ö are transliterated in a way that strongly change the pronunciation.

KölnКельн [keln] (instead of logical Кьольн)

GöttingenГеттінген [getingen] (instead of logical Гьоттінген)

What is the reason of such strange transliteration and are there other examples when transliteration does not follow the pronunciation of the original language?

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First reason

The Spelling of 2019 year [for example], quote:

§ 132. Букви та буквосполучення ö, ø, eu, ое

Голосні, яким на письмі відповідають букви й буквосполучення ö, ø, ое, eu, у німецькій, данській, іспанській, норвезькій, турецькій, французькій, шведській та деяких інших мовах, і фонетично подібні до них голосні передаємо українською буквою е: Ге́те, Бʼєрнсон, Ке́льн, Пасте́р, Рентге́н, Ма́льме, Вільне́в, Е́нчепінг, а після звука [j] буквою є: Рішельє́, Бʼє́рнсон.

Short: ö → е or є /je/ if a sound of [j] is before.

Second reason

They are the closest sounds.

  • German ö usually represents sounds [ø] or [œ] [1], for example we would have [kœln] [2] and [ˈɡœtɪŋən] [3].
  • Ukrainian does not have the sounds, but has an e which represent usualy [e] or [ɛ]. For compare, mentioned here о represent [ɔ] or [o] [4]. So, not that strongly.
            Front               Central                 Back
Close        i • y –––––––––––– ɨ • ʉ  ––––––––––––––  ɯ • u
                \                  \                     |
Near-close       \     ɪ • ʏ        \            • ʊ     |
                  \  ↓               \  ↓                |
Close-mid      → e • ø –––––––––––– ɘ • ɵ –––––––––––– ɤ • o ←
                    \                  \                 |
Mid                  • ø̞                ə                • o̞
                      \  ↓               \               |
Open-mid           → ɛ • œ –––––––––––– ɜ • ɞ –––––––– ʌ • ɔ ←
                        \                  \             |
Near-open              æ •                  ɐ            |
                          \                  \           |
Open                     a • ɶ –––––––––––– ä • –––––– ɑ • ɒ

Legend:
– unrounded • rounded
– «arrows» show about sounds which mentioned here.
IPA vowels map

Another notices:

  • It is not normal for Ukrainian to have soft г /h/ and k /k/. This situation is same for German, or South Slavic languages which also write with е as Гетинген /getingen/ or Келн /keln/.
  • It is Muscovian style for German sounds as ё /jo/ which in free-style writing usually writed just as e. But Muscovian has different phonology, especial for vowels, for this case ë also can be as [ɵ] [5] which rounded and close enough, and their к with г /g/ can be soft.
|improve this answer|||||
  • Isn't ьо the right sound? – P. Vowk Dec 13 '19 at 19:27
  • @P.Vowk What do you mean? For Ukrainian itʼs just previous half-soft consonant + o. As I writed, not every consonants can be soft (for example, for Muscovian itʼs famous ц, hovewer they can sometimes write as soft, because their language mostly based on transliteration) and e is closer to ö then o. – stegetsj Dec 13 '19 at 21:12

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