14

I've looked at the question on here that relates to this one, but it doesn't really discuss the use of the majuscule eszett (ẞ). I've never seen it used but how often does the ẞ get used? I know the Gießener Zeitung uses the ẞ because their title is always written in all caps and I found this in the Ständiger Ausschuss für geographische Namen (StAGN) published by the Geschäftsstelle des StAGN im Bundesamt für Kartographie und Geodäsie.

Instead of using the majuscule eszett (if isn't a common, mainstream thing) is it OK and accepted to use a regular one along with capitals?

GOETHESTRAßE

or should you just use two capital S's?

12

Official rules

As of 29.06.2017, the official spelling rules allow to use the capital eszett (ẞ) and SS when capitalising ß; they do not allow using a lowercase ß (§ 25 E3):

Bei Schreibung mit Großbuchstaben schreibt man SS. Daneben ist auch die Verwendung des Großbuchstabens möglich. Beispiel: Straße – STRASSE – STRAẞE

Frequency of usage

From my observations, ß is most often capitalised as the lowercase ß (despite this being wrong), considerably less often as SS and even less often as a capital eszett (ẞ). However, the latter is used with surprisingly increasing frequency. This article features some recent uses, including the corporate designs of RWE (a major German electricity company), the SPD (a major German political party), the German football association, and the University of Weimar.

My (hopefully informed) opinion

  • If it is not a logo or similar: Check if you really want to use all caps, since they decrease legibility, make the text optically disharmonious, and a lot of people feel shouted at by them. Consider using small caps or another type of typographical emphasis (bold, italics, …) instead.

  • If you can assure that your text is rendered in a font with a proper capital eszett, use it (GOETHESTRAẞE). This is arguably the alternative which least readers will stumble over. I personally used a small-caps eszett before it became official, in a situation with several readers who where supposed to spot mistakes, and nobody noticed. The design of a capital eszett is good, if it cannot be read as a B and if it does not stand out amongst the other capital letters of the font, e.g., by being to narrow (see also here).

  • Otherwise use SS (GOETHESTRASSE). While this is the preferred variant in the official spelling rules, it is more distracting as readers intuitively read it like a lowercase ss.

  • Never use a lowercase eszett (GOETHESTRAßE), except for forms where names need to be identified correctly and similar. This is not only officially wrong, but also distracting as the lowercase eszett does not harmonise with the other letters.

  • 1
    @Em1: On my keyboard it’s [Shift] + [ß]. For other keyboards, we have a question for this, IIRC. – Wrzlprmft Jun 29 '17 at 13:20
  • 1
    @CarstenS: Ich kann das zwar nachvollziehen, aber ich denke nicht, dass es sinnvoll ist, für die normalen Anwender (die ich als Zielpublikum dieser Frage und Antwort ansehe) eine komplizierte Übergangssituation zu dokumentieren, die Vergangenheit ist. Wenn Du möchtest, kannst Du aber gerne hierzu eine Frage stellen – gerade da das aktuell ist. – Wrzlprmft Jun 29 '17 at 13:33
  • 3
    Das ist ok, ich denke nur nicht, dass es sinnvoll ist, Antworten nach so langer Zeit signifikant zu ändern. Von den 10 Upvotern hat vielleicht keiner die Antwort gelesen. – Carsten S Jun 29 '17 at 13:36
  • 1
    @CarstenS: Abgesehen von der Umstrukturierung ist es wirklich nur das Ersetzen von [es ist was im Gange, und zwar …] durch [es ist offiziell]. Die wesentlichen Aussagen sind dieselben. – Wrzlprmft Jun 29 '17 at 13:41
  • 1
    @Carsten Edits entsperren alle Votes, Du könntest also theoretisch Dein Upvote entfernen – hiergiltdiestfu Jun 29 '17 at 14:37
4

or should you just use two capital S's?

Use that one. It's the most common capitalization and I'd recommend it over using lower case.

Alternative spellings are

  • SZ, which used to be recommended for ambiguous cases (Maße vs Masse) and according to Wikipedia, is the default for some specific applications (military typewriters, architectural drawings) and regions (eastern Austria)

  • , the actual capital letter (added to DIN in 2007 and Unicode in 2008), which is mainly used in things like signs or logos or in cases where capitalization is used for formal reasons like machine readability and the distinction between SS and matters (eg proper names for identification)

Note that capital eszett might become the default spelling in the future (who knows?), but it isn't yet. On the other hand, Switzerland got rid of the ß altogether.

2

Im ORF läuft seit einigen Wochen die Realsatire-Serie »Gemischtes Doppel« mit Thomas Stipsits und Katharina Straßer. Im Vorspann werden die Namen der beiden Hauptdarsteller in Versalschrift angezeigt, dabei wird für das scharfe S in »Straßer« ein großes scharfes S verwendet:

enter image description here

1

There is no capital "sharp s", not really. Yes, some fonts have it, and there have been repeated attempts to introduce a majuscule ß, but support is far from widespread. Learners of German would be well-advised to stay away from it. Just use "SS" is you must, and be done with it. It's probably a good thing to avoid all caps anyway.

  • 5
    Note that the capital eszett became official today. – Wrzlprmft Jun 29 '17 at 12:54
  • Yes, thanks for mentioning that. The Rechtschreibrat introduced it officially today, together with a few other minor changes. Just so you know: SS instead of ẞ continues to be an accepted alternative. – Ingmar Jun 30 '17 at 5:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.