The sad fate of the hunchbacked Mr S.

After all we don't want to cause confusion. If a German speaker sees the phrase “Trinken in Massen” (literally drinking masses), he could think you were advocating binge drinking and not explaining that drinks are served in the traditional German litre glasses, written with a ß. In the large canton up north, elongated S sounds are still indicated with an “ß”, affectionately also called an Eszett or a hunchbacked S.

In Switzerland, the “ß” (a kind of double s still used in Germany) went out of fashion in 1938. From then on, it was officially no longer taught in schools. The NZZ was the only Swiss daily newspaper to resist this decision for many years – but it too gave up the fight in 1974. The letter was officially abolished in Switzerland with the spelling reform of 2006.

Since then, the seemingly antiquated and yet somehow endearing ß has eked out a sad existence on the substitute bench of Swiss German linguistic customs. In Germany, too, it is increasingly being replaced by the double S.

At Apostroph, although we have a passion for minorities, we are rigorous in our quality control processes to ensure that the “ß” is only used when you really want it.

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