RE: Capital Sharp S in the News

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Wed Jul 02 2008 - 09:40:14 CDT

  • Next message: Otto Stolz: "Re: Capital Sharp S in the News"

    Doug Ewell wrote:
    > German has a long way to go, if the goal is to abandon the
    > use of two (or more) letters for one sound.

    Right. Are there some people trying to create special ligatures for "ei",
    "eu", "sch"?
    And look at the various way to write the same sound with just one letter.
    Really, the German Esstsett is special in that it is hard to say if its
    value is in fact "ss" or "sz".

    The current capitalization wants the "ss/SS" interpretation but this is
    probably not correct etymologically for most words: it would be "ss/SS" if
    this is following a long vowel (so the sharp s is not so 'sharp' but looks
    more like a soft unvoiced s), and "sz/SZ" if this is following a short vowel
    (so the sharp s interpretation becomes more correct, with a "harder" z,
    possibly voiced, that looks more like the Portuguese c with cedilla: The
    German z is also affricated, but the affricate coarticulation mostly
    disappears after a s, producing the "sharp" effect and the shorter vowel).
    The ambiguity between the two interpretations may come from the continuum of
    phonology between Northern and Southern German dialects, as I think that the
    sharp "SZ" interpretation comes from the Northernmost dialects.

    There's also a second continuum betwen West and East for Saxon, and this
    even crosses the borders of German by including dialects of Dutch as well,
    or more Frankish varieties like Ripuarian (and probably also some extinct
    Oil dialects predating the creation of French). Note that Old French also
    had this ligature and similar ambiguities in medieval "Gotic" scriptures,
    however this ambiguity has not survived the standardisarion of French over
    the various Oil dialects.

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