lemiru: Balthier is a gentleman ([Hetalia - CH - ah..! ])
äuä de scho ([personal profile] lemiru) wrote2012-04-14 01:16 am

(no subject)

Silly thing I did today, because I can't always just feel sorry for myself on here, eh?

The ß files

So today I was procrastinating genuinely curious and wanted to find out why the Swiss don’t use that strange German letter, namely the “ß” (which I’ve learned that its also called “german B” in English, which is ridiculous because there is no b involved, like, at all) (for those who don’t know, it’s not a b, it’s a sharp s, or double s. Just so that we’re all on the same page).
Anyway. So the Swiss don’t use that letter, and I didn’t know why. Turns out, nobody does!!! How weird is that? A whole letter just going missing and nobody knows how that came to be.

There are, however, a few theories, and they are thus:

1°) The Swiss adopted the Antiqua typeface earlier than the other Germanic states who kept using Fraktur, and there was no ß for Antiqua for the longest time.

This theory is doubted because, well, it didn’t take THAT long for the ß to appear in this typeface, and anyway, there were a lot of publications in Switzerland that used Fraktur up to the end of the 1940ies, actually way longer than in Germany.

2°) It’s all because of the typewriter.

The Swiss had that little problem where they had to fit three languages onto one typewriter. Adding é, à, è and ç to the already existing extra-characters ö, ä and ü proved to be a tough nut and so they simply ditched the ß which could easily be replaced by the ss.

This is actually the most wide-spread explanation, but scholars suspect that the ß wasn’t all that important in Switzerland already by then because if it were, they’d have found a way to keep it, because they are good like that. Or something.

3°) Swissgerman doesn’t really need the ß-sound

The most scholarly explanation because LINGUISTICS FUCK YEAH but it’s kind of complicated and boring so let’s just boil it down to a “Switzerland talks weird and doesn’t care what you think” and move on.

So yeah, nobody knows, and nobody really cares enough to find a definitive answer. Basically, we just like long words with lots of esses.


One of the sources (PDF) Peter Gallmann "Warum die Schweizer weiterhin kein eszett schreiben".

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