AW: AW: sharp s (Eszett)

Georg Ochsner g.ochsner at
Tue Mar 11 13:07:07 CET 2008

> -----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
> Von: Kenneth Whistler
> Gesendet: Dienstag, 11. März 2008 01:02

> Well, sure... and people will continue to argue this. But
> the facts of current German orthography are that the
> uppercase of ß is "SS", despite minority holdouts for
> maintaining "ß" in all-caps contexts or still using "SZ"
> in all-caps contexts to try to preserve the distinction.
In Germany it is mandatory to maintain the small sharp s in uppercase names
in official documents like IDs, passports or tax declarations etc. in order
to prevent confusions. Whether this is a minority holdout I cannot say.

> This discussion about ß tends to end up garbled because
> using "ss" to display or represent ß *would* be a fallback
> (see above), whereas using "SS" as the uppercase of ß is
> *not* a fallback, but rather the prescribed, expected behavior.
The reason why there is (was) no uppercase sharp s is, because it just does
never appear at the beginning of a German word, thus never at the beginning
of a sentence... So in normal handwriting there is no need for an uppercase
form. Now let's come back to domains. I would say normally they are typed in
using lower case letters, if not someone has by mistake activated Caps Lock.

> And as others have pointed out, nothing prevents the
> user agent from mapping together {ß, ss, SS} before
> handing a string off to a resolver, right? Which means
> Herr Faßbinder can get his domain, and need not know
> that what actually gets registered is the equivalent
> fassbinder.
I don't know if it is that easy (already). At the moment Whois lookups over
the official website of the German registry will be rejected as "invalid" if
containing a sharp s, so Mr. Faßbinder has to know, that it is something
else he has to look up. And if he has the domain registered and types it
into his browser with sharp s, then the sharp s will turn into "ss" in the
address field, telling him, that he is not Mr. Faßbinder any more in the
digital world but Mr. Fassbinder...
> In fact, because of the history of German orthography, I
> would argue that that is precisely what should be done.
> In traditional orthography, many syllable-ending s's
> were written with ß (Fluß, muß, Riß, Faß), but the new
> orthography writes those consistently Fluss, muss, Riss, Fass.
The German spelling reform made it easier to know, when to use sharp or
double s, where the old rules seemed to be too complicated or not logical.
But the sharp s was not abolished or deprecated, also not at the end of
words! Your examples are right, but may I give another one which shows that
it is not that trivial: Schoß stays Schoß meaning lap - but Schoss means
shoot (immature plant).

Best regards

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