A 07:54 97-08-15 -0700, Marc Wilhelm Kuester a écrit :
>Your [Timothy Partridge's] assumption is correct. ? (sharp s, U+00DF) was
>originally a ligature
>between the long s (U+017F) and the normal s. In gothic script (=
> Fraktur) the 'round' s (U+0073) was used at the end of syllables, long s
>Double s are frequent in German, and the collision between U+017F and
>U+0073 resulted in the ligature "sharp s" .
> With the de facto dissappearance of the gothic script from day to day
>use in the thirties, the long s and with it the perception of sharp s as
>a ligature has all but vanished. The great majority of Germans would not
>even know it was one --- as, by the way, the umlauts which were
>originally only ligatures for ae, oe and ue, respectively. Now, these are
>in most contexts perceived as normal characters like A-Z.
Interestingly enough, in old French writings, the ß (long s) ligature is
omnipresent. In Canadian archives, we have pritings from Samuel the
Champlain (XVIIth Century), where, for example, he writes "avec ce qui
s'est paßé ["passé"] en ladite Nouvelle France en l'année 1631" and
"stipulez [sic] by Meßire ["Messire"] Iean Iacques Dolu..." (in passing the
"j", or "consonant i" as they called it, did not yet have a graphic form at
The ß is also present as late as the end of the XVIIIth Century in the
"Déclaration universelle des droits de l'homme" (1789):
"Tout homme étant présumé innocent jusqu'à ce qu'il ait été déclaré
coupable s'il est jugé indispensable de l'arrêter toute rigueur qui ne
seroit [sic] pas néceßaire ["nécessaire"] pour s'aßurer ["s'assurer"] de sa
personne doit être sévérement [sic] réprimée par la loi".
All this has also been forgotten by most French speakers nowadays.
I documented this (full extracts and sources) in an informative annex of
standard CAN/CSA Z243.4.1.
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