Peter Saint-Andre stpeter at stpeter.im
Mon Dec 7 20:48:53 CET 2009

On 12/7/09 11:45 AM, Shawn Steele wrote:
> For ß/ss the ability to present the correct form is important,
> especially in names.  I think the ability to make a distinction is
> marginal (have both go to different places).  

First, I freely admit that I have not followed the discussion here with
complete attention (the threads have been long and busy).

However, based on my understanding of German and (ancient) Greek, eszett
and final sigma have important differences. There is no alternate form
for a name such as Ἐπίκουρος (one of my favorite philosophers). To use a
sigma instead of a final sigma here is simply incorrect (although, as
pointed out here previously, there is no upper case final sigma). The
same is not true of eszett, such as in the name of the German poet and
translator Johann Heinrich Voß, whose last name can be spelled Voss.

Let's say that Herr Voss had gotten around to translating the fragments
of Epicurus (as far as I know, he did not). A site devoted to his
translations might be hosted at domains like this:


But the following are just wrong:


So it's not clear to me if bundling of sigma and final sigma is necessary.

> In practice it seems
> clear that both would be "bundled" by the name owner.  In fact the
> major registrars where this is interesting (.de and .at) have
> indicated that they WILL bundle, at which point it's moot whether
> this WG expects both forms to go to different places since they
> won't.  It seems to me to not be helpful to spend a lot of effort to
> build a feature that the target market won't use.

Agreed. IMHO for .gr this is doubly so (they might choose to bundle, but
 speaking only as a reader of ancient Greek I'd say there's no good
reason to).

> That doesn't mean that I think IDNA2003 already "solves" eszett.
> Clearly spelling a word "ss" just because it's convenient for mapping
> isn't correct.


> So maybe Greek and German are similar in that respect.  In Greek the
> distinction may not be as common, though I would argue there is some
> distinction of meaning:  A CamelCased label where the end of the
> first word was a sigma would be clearer.  

I assume that you mean "a final sigma" here, because the end of a word
can't be anything but a final sigma.

Let's say we have a site about the great wisdom "μεγέθος σοφία" of the
ancient philosophers (yes, my examples are forced but my Greek
dictionary is at home).


You would never have:


> I don't know Greek, but I'd
> guess there's at least one "Therapist" case where it could be a
> single word if the final sigma was missing.


> FWIW eszett is also only interesting for registries/zone operators
> using German.  (almost like Sigma is only interesting for Greek).
> The slight (IMO) difference is that the non-eszett form is common in
> other languages.
> I think a key point is that the TLD registrars in all three of these
> have made clear that the ability to register the "correct" linguistic
> form is very important, however they will also bundle.  I think
> that's the most functionality we need to allow.  Anything more
> detailed gets lost by the behavior of those registrars.  (Sure, lower
> level zones could do something else, but 90% of the users caring
> about these characters will encounter the TLD behavior and expect
> that, even at lower levels.)

In any case, I agree that this belongs at the registry level. I vote for
making eszett and final sigma PVALID.


Peter Saint-Andre

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