sharp s (Eszett)

Georg Ochsner g.ochsner at
Fri Mar 7 17:52:19 CET 2008


I am a native German speaker (born in Austria, living in Germany). I noticed
that there have already been postings about the German sharp s (Eszett) but
actually very few (if any) from German people (Afaik Martin is from
Switzerland, where people normally do not use the sharp s). 

I want to stress how important the sharp s actually is for most of the
German speaking users. Beside the 3 umlauts which can already be used in
IDNs the sharp s is the 4th character which would really matter for users.
Over 90 million German speakers do use the sharp s. In German texts it is
used more often than the letters "j", "q" and "y" for instance. The sharp s
has (of course) a direct key on German keyboards.

Concerning IDNA I have to say, that the sharp s is NOT equal to double s.
Mapping the sharp s to "ss" is not natural from a user's point of view. If
you substitute the sharp s by "ss" you will get wrong spelling in most cases
and sometimes even other words with totally different meanings, which can be
confusing. There are strict grammatical rules whether to use the one or the

I am not versed enough to know the deep technical impacts, but I am
enthusiastic about the German language though... How could the sharp s be
implemented into IDNA so that it can be used in IDNs? I read that the Latin
capital sharp S has been added to Unicode 5.1 now
( The document also proposes
a tailored casing operation from small to capital sharp s where desired.
What implications does that have on "rule B" in the current table document
and the other documents?

As an user I would really like to see the sharp s in IDNs, maybe you can
discuss the technical impacts, even if it takes kind of workarounds or
"special" mappings...? As far as I can contribute by collecting orthographic
data or contacting German language specialist here in Germany to join the
discussion, please let me know and I will try.

Best regards

PS.: Please forgive and correct me if I mixed up technical terms...

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