[TUHS] end-S/long-S (was: Re: GNU eqn clarifications and reforms)

markus schnalke meillo at marmaro.de
Fri Jun 16 17:43:12 AEST 2023


[2023-06-16 07:07] "G. Branden Robinson" <g.branden.robinson at gmail.com>
> For inſtance, the United States uſed to employ a non-final lowercaſe S
> in the founding documents of its preſent government, where you can see
> exhibits of the "Congreſs of the United States".

In old German, up to WWII, namely in Fraktur (the printed letters)
and Sütterlin (the handwritten letters) both kinds of S are

Today, the long-S has only survived in some old company and
restaurant names, many of them changing by and by to the end-S,
because younger Germans can't read long-S and don't understand it
anymore.  Newer names don't use it the long-S, even if they are
written in Fraktur letters, which would demand for the long-S.

For example the beer brand Warsteiner changed the long-S in 2013 to
the end-S.

> (Although if anyone wants to tell me whether non-final s was applied to
> the trailing ends of non-final morphemes _within_ words, I'm all ears.)

I'm no language expert, so I don't really know what morphemes are.
What I do know is that the round-S (i.e. end-S) is applied to the
end of words, parts of compound words (typical for German), and in
some situatuations even to parts of words. -- But only in Fraktur
and Sütterlin, not in modern German (latin alphabet), which does
no longer have a long-S.


End of word: Haus (engl: house)
Middle of word: Kiſte (engl: box)

Compound word: Hausmaus (engl: house mouse)
Hauſmaus would be wrong.

In such cases the end-S is in the middle of the word. Such
compounds are typical for German. If you have an english word
like ``downhill'', where two separate words joined into one,
the end-S of the first part would still remain an end-S,
although it moved into the middle of the word. (Sorry, I
cannot find an english example where the first word part ends
with s.)

There's a famous example for the difference the distinguishing
between s and ſ can make:

	Wachſtube, i.e. Wach-Stube (engl: guardhouse)
	Wachstube, i.e. Wachs-Tube (engl: wax tube)

In modern German context is necessary to know which meaning
of Wachstube is the right one, in old German it's clear from the

Besides compounds German is also infamous for it's prefixes. If
you combine the prefix ``aus'' (engl: out) with other words, the
end-S remains as well:

	ausgezeichnet (engl: excellent -- wordly: out-marked)
	Ausfahrt (engl: exit for vehicles -- wordly: out-drive)

Using the long-S in these situation would be wrong.

That means: Whenever one uses a word, that can stand alone (and is
thus well-known for it's shape), as part of a larger word, the part
stays the same, even within other words, keeping its end-S.

Generally I'd say, but take this only as a rule of thumb, because
I'm not enough expert in this: You use an end-S in all situation
where you would want to avoid a ligature of the s with the next
letter. Long-S can have ligatures with the following letter and
there are common ones in German. (In Wachſtube an st-ligature
would be preferred.) End-S will never have ligatures with the
following letter.

This at least is the situation concerning old German, as
understood by someone with curiousity for the topic but without
real lingual knowledge.


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