Lorelei or Loreley

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Catagrapha

Member
Malagasy
Wikipedia says "After the German spelling reform of 1901, in almost all German terms, the letter y was changed to the letter i, but some proper nouns have kept their y, including Loreley".

Lorelei is seemingly the standard spelling in English, French, and more, according to the wikipedia entry of Lorelei in these languages. Lorelei should have been the standard spelling in these languages before 1901 - it would be implausible if Loreley became Lorelei in these languages because of the German spelling reform.

Was the -ei in Lorelei influenced by the -ei placenames like Lombardei?
Was Lombardei spelt Lombardey before the German spelling reform?
 
  • berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I wouldn't scratch my head over these spelling differences.

    The spelling Loreley, which became standard in the 20th century, is just one of many local spellings of the place name. The place has become world famous through the ballade by Brentano and the song by Heine who spelled it Lore Lay and Lore-Ley, respectively. But there are also spellings with i in the same period (e.g. Lurlei in the late 19th century novel by Julius Wolff) and earlier.
     
    Last edited:

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    Just to be sure: You are aware the Lorelei is the English and not the German standard spelling?
    I have seen Loreley with y written before in both English and German, but I had always thought "y" was a mistake, in German (or any other language actually), because it's a German place name and y represents only the sound [y] in German and not [ i] or [j].
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    <y> is [y] only in words of Greek origin. After <e> and <a> in native proper names it is but a fancy variant of <i>, as in Bayern.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    <y> is [y] only in words of Greek origin. After <e> and <a> in native proper names it is but a fancy variant of <i>, as in Bayern.
    Ok, I didn't know there was this <e> and <a> rule. I had imagined Bayern should have been Baiern in standard German but they decided to keep y out of tradition from an earlier time.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    The opposite. Baiern is the traditional spelling and still used when referring to the bairisch as dialect group. The spelling of the country was changed to Bayern in 1806 where it became a Kingdom for no other reason than that it looks fancier. But you are right in assuming that <ey> and <ay> are mostly older (pre 19th century) spellings.
     
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