Großes ß

It’s not often that I can say this, but I used a new letter of the alphabet for the first time this weekend.

Now it’s quite possible, that you are not even aware that the German alphabet has a new letter.  It is, in fact the Eszett (ß), which now has a capital equivalent.

Until now, the letter ß – which replaces ss or sz in a word  – has strictly speaking only be a lower case letter.  If you wrote a work in capital letters, you were expected to write it out in full.  eg. muß became MUSS.

Apparently there was a capital ß in East Germany for a time and it was even used on the cover of the East-German Duden dictionary for a number of years, but only in April of this year did it become formally recognised for the whole of Germany.  (For techies out there: it is part of ISO/IEC 10646, unicode U+1E9E)

So when I was writing my Christmas cards this weekend, I addressed them to “GROßBRITANNIEN” – hence writing my first capital ß.

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