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German Orthography Changes

German orthography

To keep up with new developments in the over 150 languages we offer, we need to rely on our translators to be top professionals in their trade and to make sure that they are always informed when reforms to their language occur.

The Council for German Orthography recently published revised German writing rules. This year, the change was made to the German Eszett, a letter that only appears in German and looks like this: ß. ‘Eszett’ stands for the two letters ‘s’ and ‘z’.

Up until the new rule, the ‘ß’ was only used in a lower case and, if it was needed in a title where all caps were used, a double ‘S’ was used instead; now the Germans have a capital version.

The ‘ß’ is used when the vowel before it is pronounced long and after diphthongs like au, äu, eu und ei as these double vowels are always spoken longer.

Here is one example:
Stress (same word in German as in English) – pronounced like in English with a short vowel ‘e’
Straße (the German word for ‘street’) – pronounced with a long ‘a’.

Previously, when capitalizing the word ‘Straße’ it would be spelled: STRASSE
But since the new ruling, there are two options to choose from, it can be spelled like STRASSE or like STRAẞE.

On many official IDs, letters are capitalized. People with an Eszett in their official name can finally spell their name properly even on official documents. Herr Groß can now be Herr Groẞ.

Impacted by this new ruling is also Closed or Open Captioning. Captioning is used to display the spoken text on television, video screens or any other visual display in written format. Sometimes the captions include descriptions of non-speech elements, like ‘dog barking’. The only difference between Closed Captioning and Open Captioning is that the Closed Captions are not visible until activated by the viewer, usually via a menu option. Captions are used in public areas where sound is not welcomed and for the hearing and deaf audience.

We were very pleased that our German translators informed us about this new ruling when it was published.

The Unicode Standard for the capital ẞ is U+1E9E.

 

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