Re: Proposal for German capital letter "ß"

From: Asmus Freytag (t) <>
Date: Wed, 9 Dec 2015 11:21:25 -0800
On 12/9/2015 9:52 AM, Gerrit Ansmann wrote:
After the German spelling reform in 1996, "ß" then became a letter of its own, and words containing the letter "ß" are no longer equivalent to words containing an "ss" combination instead of the "ß". So, for instance, "Maße" and "Masse" are not equal. In fact, "Maße" translates to "measurements" while "Masse" translates to "weight".

Actually, you had the very same problem with “Masse” and “Maße” before the spelling reform.

The true difference after the spelling reform is that the pronunciation of the two is now systematically different, with the former having a short vowel and the latter a long vowel. Before the reform, the choice of spelling depended on other factors, but now a fairly systematic correspondence exists.

Because of that correspondence, the use of SS as a capital form might begin to "sound wrong", so to speak, to people who grew up with the new spelling. Will have to see whether that suspected effect translates into an actual tendency to avoid the "SS" style uppercase. Whether this happens by a decision to avoid the use of ALL CAPS, or by using the capital sharp s or by simply not uppercasing the sharp-s even in an ALL CAPS context. The first would be hard to observe, but examples of the other two strategies were reasonably common and many were documented in the run-up to the encoding of the capital sharp s.


Received on Wed Dec 09 2015 - 13:22:50 CST

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