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

From: Otto Stolz (
Date: Fri Feb 18 2005 - 06:38:28 CST

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    D. Starner has quoted me thusly:
    > Let me remind everybody that Andreas Sttzner has collected evidence
    > only for his case, viz. ߔ in all-capitals context,but not for the
    > SS spelling. Yet, the latter exists, and according to my perception
    > prevails.

    Which he has commented thusly:
    > According to my perception, English prevails over Cherokee even among the
    > Cherokee. Does that mean we should not encode Cherokee? The question is not
    > whether it's more common than its competitors, but whether it's common
    > enough in an absolute sense to warrant encoding.

    D. Starner has quoted me out of context, so he is barking up the wrong tree.

    The main difference between the German sharp-s issue and his Cherokee
    example: Andreas Sttzner has collected evidence for non-standard use
    of a particular feature in a single orthography; in contrast, Cherokee
    is a language entirely different from English, having not only its own
    orthography, but even a different script. Hence, in the sharp-s issue,
    we have to deal with compatibility between non-standard, and standard,
    use; there is no compatibility issue whatsoever, in the Cherokee example.

    So the gist of my contribution was to set that non-standard use
    into its right proportion, to point to the widespread standard
    use and to discuss the compatibility problems.

    Re proportion of non-standard use:

    As said above, Andreas Sttzner has collected evidence only for his case.
    That is alright to show that "" in all-uppercase is used by some, and
    to point out that there is a problem that may need a solution. But he was
    naturally not concerned with the standard use, as this is already covered
    by Unicode. So, readers of his proposal may have come to the wrong im-
    pression, that "" in all-uppercase were the only (or prevailing) spelling.

    Actually, many (if not most) Germans rather share Gerd Schumacher's view:
    > Of course, there are some false capital Eszetts in minor typesetting, but
    > for sure most of them are produced by somewhat poorly literate people's text
    > processors

    Many Germans and Austrians (including my mother who was brought up
    with Stterlin and Fraktur), and most Swiss, don't use the "", at all,
    i. e. the write "ss" even in mixed-case. A fortiori, they will never
    demand an upper-case "".

    Re widespread standard use:

    The current rule is to uppercase "" as "SS". Period.

    Many (if not most) Germans comly with it, all the more, as it was
    almost the same rule before the 1996 spelling reform.

    Personally, I seldom (if at all) use all-uppercase, I prefer
    larger print and bold for titles and similar text.

    Re compatibility problems:

    You could certainly argue that some (or perhaps many) people want
    to use "" in an all-uppercase context, and that they need a suitable
    glyph; you could even claim that this problem should be solved on the
    encoding level. But any proposed solution *must be compatible* with
    the established, standard orthography, used by the overwhelming
    majority of writers.

    Possible solutions:

    A Declare the whole issue as a non-problem, as it is supposed to
       concern only the illiterate and ignorant.

    B Solve the problem on a mere glyph level, by providing particular
       fonts with two "" glyphs, and text-processing/type-setting software
       that has the option to chose between two different uppercasing schemes
       (standard, as dicussed above, and non-standard, exploiting the
       variant glyph).

    C Solve the problem on the encoding level with a variant selector.

    D Solve the problem on the encoding level with a new character,

    I have never advocated solution A. However, D. Starner has quoted me
    in a way, as if I had done so.

    I deem solution D absolutely infeasable, as it will provoke severe
    compatibility problems between standard, and non-standard, captalizing.

    So, the choice seems between B and C.
    B The UTC could issue a TN for for font-designers and implementors,
       explaining the standard, and non-standard, uppercasing of "",
       and outlining the font, and implementation, features neccessary
       to make the latter possible.
    C The UTC could define an "" variant, suitable for display in a
       all-capitals context. In the standard, this should have a note
       explaining the non-standard, and standard, uppercasing of "".

    I will certainly not propose one of these solutions, as I would
    never use the non-standard uppercasing (and still deem ugly all
    examples shown so far). But I would not oppose a formal pro-
    position along the lines of either B or C, above.

    Best wishes,
       Otto Stolz

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