Uppercase variant of U+00DF LATIN SMALL LETTER SHARP S ("German sharp s", "▀")

From: Karl Pentzlin (karl-pentzlin@acssoft.de)
Date: Wed Feb 16 2005 - 09:55:12 CST

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    Am Mittwoch, 16. Februar 2005 um 15:10 schrieb Werner LEMBERG:

    WL> Using `▀' within uppercase words is plain wrong -- the `Duden'
    WL> explicitly says (even for the new German orthography) that it has to
    WL> be replaced with `SS'. In seldom cases (`Masse' vs. `Ma▀e') it should
    WL> be replaced with `SZ' to avoid ambiguity.

    This is a pure normative point of view. The living language has
    developed another way and proves the capital forms "SS" and "SZ"
    as plain wrong.
    As pointed out frequently, Unicode is not to enforce special
    spellings, but to encode characters which are in fact used.
    The "▀" in capitalized German text is fact.
    It is very hard to find "▀" capitalized as "SS", except in schoolbooks.
    I never have seen the "SZ" variant except in the Duden itself or on
    very old technical drawings.

    "▀" occurs in "Stra▀e" (street) and therefore is a very common part
    of postal addresses. This fact gives opportunity to show how the
    uppercasing of "▀" is really handled by official bodies:
    E.g. in my car papers from 2004, issued by a communal authority,
    my street is printed "KANZLEISTRA▀E".
    The Deutsche Post (German Post) requires forms (for new address
    after moving) to be filled in by all capital letters, but explicitly
    to write "▀" not "SS".

    If a "▀" occurs as such in capitalized text, this can be interpreted
    in two ways:
    a.) "▀" is a case-invariant letter, like Cyrillic U+04C0.
    b.) There is a capital letter "▀", for which the glyph of
        the lowercase "▀" may be used.

    Andreas St÷tzner's proposal at
    shows evidence that a capital sharp s is in fact used in some "good
    typography", but that in "every day use" the (hitherto) lower case
    letter is used as upper case also.

    To handle "▀" in capitalized text correctly, there may be another way
    than encoding a new character "LATIN CAPITAL LETTER SHARP S":
    1.) Change the properties of U+00DF "▀" to "caseless" like U+04C0.
    2.) Add a note to the description of U+00FD in the standard that the
        "SMALL" in the name is historical.
    3.) Define a standardized variant sequence U+00DF U+FE00 "LATIN SMALL
        LETTER SHARP S capital form".
    This would reflect the fact that a single case independent glyph
    is used for "▀" in almost all cases, expect where "good" typography
    is important. Moreover, existing texts which use U+00DF for "▀" in
    capitalized context would not be broken.

    Karl Pentzlin
    AC&S Analysis Consulting & Software GmbH
    Schongau (Bavaria), Germany

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