Re: Uppercase ß is coming? (U+1E9E)

From: Asmus Freytag (
Date: Fri May 04 2007 - 16:37:25 CST

  • Next message: Marnen Laibow-Koser: "Re: Uppercase is coming? (U+1E9E)"

    On 5/4/2007 2:33 PM, John Hudson wrote:
    > When I say that I think the uppercase eszett is a glyph variant of SS
    > I am not talking at all about its appearance, but about what it
    > represents in text. I believe it represents the uppercase of ß, and
    > the uppercase of ß *is* SS; ergo, the uppercase eszett represents SS.
    The use of "SS" as an uppercase for ß is itself a 'hack'. (Or more
    politely a 'fallback'). Yes, this sounds strange because it is after all
    part of an official orthography, but its understandable if you consider
    the history of German orthography (well, not in detail, but some
    important aspects).

    Consider first, that until about 100 years ago, most printed material in
    German was in Fraktur. In that style, ALL UPPERCASE text is essentially
    not readable, and therefore, if employed at all, it's a true rarity.
    However, the ß does exist in Fraktur, and is probably based on writing
    practices common to Fraktur and handwritten styles of the time, where it
    represents 'ss' and not 'sz'.

    Note that unlike other languages, in German, the ß ceases to be merely a
    ligature, but is used to mark specific pronunciation - the fact that the
    very recent reformed orthography re-distributed the role between ss and
    ß merely underscores the fact that one is not a presentation variant of
    the other, but each is employed for specific orthographic purposes.

    With typewriters and transition to Antiqua, the question of ALL
    UPPERCASE text presents itself. In that context, the lack of a
    letterform for ß other than lower case, is keenly felt. The standard
    orthography opts for the hack while simultaneously, others are searching
    for an uppercase representation.

    With increasing use of ALL UPPERCASE text, users continue to be bothered
    by the need to give up orthographic distinctions when using standard
    orthography. Therefore, the documented *ongoing* use of ß in ALL
    UPPERCASE context. The use of uppercase ß is intended as a glyph variant
    not of SS but of ß when used in ALL UPPERCASE text (where its standard
    glyph does not fit well, having a descender, etc.)

    ß is not ss and uppercase ß is not SS.

    (but standard orthography decrees that the UppercaseOf(ß) is to be "SS"
    - that's the crux of the issue and the reason for the continued minority
    opinion and practice(!) on this issue).

    Searching for glyph variants of "SS" is not helpful, as it would
    obliterate a (searchable) text distinction desired by the users, and
    searching for ways to treat this as glyph variant of ß is not helpful,
    because Unicode decided long ago not to treat upper and lower case as
    glyph variants.

    I continue to conclude that this proposal should be approved as presented.


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