The eszett ( ß ) - phonetically - used currently mainly in German, also called is a letter scharfes S (“ S pointed”) in this language. It represents probably a binding of S used under certain conditions. ß should not be confused with the Greek letter tiny Bêta in (β), which it resembles graphically, but of which it is actually completely independent. Also, ß with the characteristic among the Latin characters not to have of capital (it is thus not bicameral). In fact, in a text in capitals, the binding disappears and one writes S .
HistoryThe ß has two different origins:
- binding of the S long and Z
The binding ſ+s → ß was used besides in the handwritten ones in writing Antiqua, as in French, before the S long does not disappear completely towards the end from the 18th century.
The binding ſ+z → ß was used for German as of the Moyen-âge. Initially, it had been used for the sound of the S which had evolved/moved of a /t/ by consequence of the Second consonant shift. When the distinction between this sound and l'/s/old was lost, the C-Ws communication sz and S merged. Nevertheless one continued to use both. The current distinction was formed only after many centuries of irregular use.
The German ß was used above all in Gothic script (for example in Fraktur). In the writing antiqua, often one did not write it, until the end of the 19th century when German orthography finished by it to prescribe for all the German texts, whether they are in Gothic script or antiqua.
As much of writings antiqua of German modelled the character ß not according to the binding ſ+z of the Gothic script but according to the binding ſ+s of the writing antiqua, the source of this binding in the German orthography was darkened and certain believe that all ß comes from ſ+s .
German orthographyIn the current German orthography, ß is used behind a long vowel or a Diphtongue, while S is used after a short vowel. Both represent the Phonème /s/, while a S insulated will decide /z/. For example, Fuß (/fuːs/, “foot” in German) comprises a long vowel, while Fluss (/flʊs/, meaning “river”) comprises a short vowel.
Until the German Spelling reform ( Neue Rechtschreibung ) of 1998, an additional rule prescribed that S is employed only between two vowels, and that it was in the other cases (at the end of the word or in front of consonant) to be replaced by ß , even behind a short vowel. Consequently, Fluss was written Fluß previously, although the vowel is short. The new rule removes the irregularity according to which, under the old orthography, the plural form Flüsse was written it with S since the E mark of plural makes that the S is not any more at the end of the Of the same mot., ich wearies, of the läßt (I leave, you leashes) is written ich today wearies, of the lässt . This reform restores coherence with the notation of the other consonants, which simple after a long vowel and are redoubled after a short vowel (for example, equal where /a/ is long and Ball where /a/ is short). This new use of ß is now standardized in Germany and Austria, although many people, and even certain newspapers, do not employ it. The Swiss and the Liechtenstein had completely removed the use of the ß as of first half of the 20th century and use S in all the cases.
OthersThe ß is also still used today to write the Kekchi in particular.
The Entité of nature named coding ß is & szlig; and the numerical reference & #223; . Its point of code in ISO 8859-1 just as in Unicode is x00DF. Its short cut on Windows is Alt+0223, on a Mac is Alt+B. On GNU/Linux one can use the AltGr+s. combination.
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