Re: Capitalization in German

From: Gerrit Ansmann <>
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2013 16:11:58 +0100

On Tue, 19 Feb 2013 11:46:12 +0100, Stephan Stiller <> wrote:

> Just how hard it is to come up with more non-name minimal pairs for ß is seen by looking at a few wordlists. There are a handful if we allow for pronunciation differences; if we don't, it's very hard.

If you do not allow for pronounciation differences, it will be downright impossible to find any non-name example, since pronounciation is the only criterion that decides whether ss or ß is used. So, if it is pronounced the same, it is written the same (at least in concerning this aspect); and if it is written differently, it is pronounced differently. The only exceptions are names from »the times before spelling was invented«, which are not changed for continuity reasons.

On Sat, 16 Feb 2013 19:42:33 +0100, Stephan Stiller <> wrote:

> Remind me real quick, I must have forgotten about all those popular, bestselling all-caps physics books teaching about mass and measurements – the comparative discussion of beer and female bodies was probably in the appendix about SI units :-) which I must have skipped.

In my Diploma thesis (German, Physics), I actually had a central hypothesis containing the word »Maß«, which I set in small caps for emphasis, using a small-caps ẞ. Anyway, in German, the words »Masse« and »Maß« (and derivates) are used more frequently than the English »mass« or »measure«, respectively.

What I find to be neglected very often, is that all these example disambiguities can only illustrate spelling rules and are not a good measurement for the impact on readability and comprehension in real-life applications. For every real disambiguity on the word level, there can be myriads of cases, where the reader stumbles and has to read the respective part twice. There is a lot of redundancy in language for a reason.

Gerrit Ansmann
Received on Tue Feb 19 2013 - 09:16:56 CST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0 : Tue Feb 19 2013 - 09:16:58 CST