ß and capitals/ß Großschreiben

Das ß sollte abgeschafft werden, wie in der Schweiz – das Problem sieht man in der Überschrift. Es mausert sich aber langsam zum Großbuchstaben, das Versal-ß – siehe Berlin Blawg (mit guten Links) und das praegnanz.de Blog.

The header here shows the problem: the German ß is only a lowercase letter, and when it appears in capitals, it is replaced by SS. So what happens when you use fonts that automatically convert into uppercase? Or small capitals? I didn’t think about this when I set up Movable Type to capitalize the headers, so I usually avoid ß in the heading.

Berlin Blawg has an entry on the gradual appearance of ß as a capital – without a vote, and without even a spelling reform commission.

Apparently the uppercase ß was recognized by the ISO for Unicode at the end of April. Good news for typeface designers.

The ß came from a ligature of two s’s and in my view it should be done away with altogether. Bring back the SS (oh no, we aren’t allowed to say that). But actually, the strongest argument for the uppercase ß is the fact that some people use it in their surnames, so it should be detectable in uppercase as well as lowercase, as Fontblog says:


Vor allem nach der Rechtschreibreform hat die Diskussion an Bedeutung gewonnen, weil das scharfe s nach kurzem Vokal generell weggefallen ist (daß/dass) und damit die Aussprache eindeutig definiert ist: das »Ruß« in Stefan Ruß-Mohl spricht sich auch versal gesetzt – RUSS-MOHL – immer noch »Ruhs« aus.

Here, from Wikipedia, is an uppercase ß on the title page of the 1957 Leipzig Duden.


LATER NOTE: I see Movable Type automatically converts ß to SS in the header. I don’t think it always did that. Indeed, the triple S was not permitted before the recent German spelling reform. OTOH my Movable Type is prehistoric.

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