German »ß« (was: s-j combination in Unicode?)

From: Otto Stolz <>
Date: Sat, 16 Feb 2013 15:44:53 +0100


Am 16.02.2013 11:48, schrieb Stephan Stiller:
> Or a non-name example: "Buße" (repentance)
> vs "Busse" (buses). But then, non-name examples are far less likely to
> remain ambiguous in context.

Years ago, I have seen with my own eyes, in a Swiss magazine
(where they consistently replace “ß” with “ss”), the following
amusing example:
   … Brigitte Bardot mit ihren beachtlichen Körpermassen …
which translates to: “BB, and her considerable bodyly masses”,
whilst the author probably wanted to say: “BB, and her
remarkable physical measurements (=body shape)”.

During the discussion on the German spelling reform, in the 1990s,
the same minimal pair has been used in the following context:
   Es ist ein Unterschied, ob ich Bier in Maßen trinke oder in Massen.
meaning: “It makes a difference, whether I drink beer in moderation,
or in masses”.

Minimal pairs for “ß” vs. “ss”, not involving proper names,
are extremly rare; in fact, I only know the two mentioned
in this very note. Between ordinary words and proper names
(or place names), you can, of course, find more minimal pairs,
e. g., “Füßen” (a declension form of “Fuß” = foot) and “Füssen”
(a town in Bavaria).

Received on Sat Feb 16 2013 - 08:51:05 CST

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