Proposal for German capital letter "ß"

Hans Meiser brille1 at
Wed Dec 9 06:25:34 CST 2015

Currently there is a vast problem trying to determine the lower case equivalent of a capitalized German word like "MASSE".

This is due to the fact that an orthographic rule exists to convert lower case letter "ß" to upper case letters "SS". So after converting a word from lower case to upper case one cannot unequivocally determine the original lower case word because the conversion is only surjective.

This issue exists because the letter "ß" originally was but a ligature of the small letter "sz" (using a legacy German font) which over time became a ligature of "ss".

After the German spelling reform in 1996, "ß" then became a letter of its own, and words containing the letter "ß" are no longer equivalent to words containing an "ss" combination instead of the "ß". So, for instance, "Maße" and "Masse" are not equal. In fact, "Maße" translates to "measurements" while "Masse" translates to "weight".

This is a particular problem in electronic data processing - like, for instance, SQL data queries. Given above rule, "Maße" will become "MASSE", just like "Masse" becomes "MASSE" when converting a word to uppercase. But there is no way back to distinguish one from the other.

I read that the UNICODE group is already striving for a solution to this problem and that they are searching for a capital letter equivalent of "ß".

My proposal is to introduce a capital letter equivalent of "ß" that's resembling two capital "S" letters: "SS".

So the capital letter equivalent of "ß" would look like "SS" but was in fact a separate code point. Converting words from lower case to upper case and back will then become bijective, auto correction will become easier and the (false) ANSI SQL stopgap of declaring "ß" and "ss" to be equal can be dropped.

Your feedback is appreciated.

Axel Dahmen - Germany
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