Re: Long S in Germany (was: 0364 COMBINING LATIN SMALL LETTER E)

From: Gerd Schumacher (
Date: Thu Jan 08 2004 - 21:12:56 EST

  • Next message: Asmus Freytag: "Re: Long S in Germany (was: 0364 COMBINING LATIN SMALL LETTER E)"

    Hello Otto,

    Thanks for your reply.

    Otto Stolz wrote:
    >Gerd Schumacher wrote:
    >> The long s [...] has been abandoned from the Roman alphabet in Germany
    >> in the mid of the 19th century.

    >You mean the 20th century, don't you?

    >I have a facsimile reprint of the 1914 issue of "Zupfgeigenhansel"
    >(a renowned song-book), which is set in Roman type ("Antiqua", in
    >German) and uses the long-S consistently, according to German
    >orthographic rules.

    Very peculiar, indeed. Thanks a lot for this information.
    Possibly reintroducing the Roman long s in the 1914 “Zupfgeigenhansel”
    is somewhat “Wandervogel”-like (Back to nature/back to the roots).
    I searched my mid- late 19th century books and journals, but I found no
    Roman/Antiqua long s at all, except as a part of the ß, where it is
    represented by long s s, not connected. For sure it was extremely unusual
    since the late 18th century.

    >If I am not mistaken, both Roman type ("Antiqua") and Gothic type
    >("Fraktur") were used concurrently up to 1941 when Gothic type was
    >banned by the government; likewise, Latin and German handwriting
    >were used concurrently. (In the 1930s, the very same government
    >had pushed the usage of Gothic type.)

    >> Usually there is no ß on Swiss typewriters, because in Swiss
    >> there are many syllable-boundaries between the two s-parts of the common
    >> German ß.

    >There is no syllable-boundary within the "ß", as it signifes a single
    >sound. I can think of no example where the Swiss pronounciation is
    >different, in this respect.

    There is an interesting article about those boundaries:

    >In compounds, two "s" characters from different constituents may
    >happen to stand side by side, as in "aussprechen" (from "aus-
    >sprechen"), but these are never ever replaced with an "ß" letter.

    >The rationale for the Swiss keyboard design is that the accented
    >characters (for French and Italian) were less dispensable than the
    >"ß" (only used in German, and easily replaced with the "ss" Digraph).

    Certainly one key would have been added, if it was important enough.

    By the way, in the most important German Dictionary by Jacob
    (who invented the linguistic term “soundshift”) and Wilhelm Grimm
    (1854 ff) there is no ß used but sz instead.
    From Jacob Grimm’s preface, chapter 19 f about Fraktur, which he
    disliked a lot:
    “... sie hat durch die verbindung ß die falsche auflösung in ſs und ss
    herbeigeführt, so dasz einfältig der selbe laut anders ausgedrückt ist,
    nachdem deutsch oder lateinisch geschrieben oder gesetzt werden soll ...“

    There are good reasons to disagree with Jacob Grimm.

    A fairly comprehensive article about the origin of the ß:
    Prof. Dr. Herbert E. Brekle, Zur handschriftlichen und typographischen
    Geschichte der Buchstabenligatur ß* aus gotisch-deutschen und
    humanistisch-italienischen Kontexten
    in: Gutenberg-Jahrbuch vol. 76 p. 67 - 77, 2001

    Unfortunately this article has been removed from the net. I’m prepared
    to provide it as a 1.8 Mb PDF-file on request, as it is too big for the

    Very best wishes

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