This page lists the rules for the use of the eszett, long s, and r rotunda in various languages, as used by Michael von Preußen in his roleplay as the Emperor of Großgermania. This usage specifically ignores the alterations in the usage of the long and short s in the English in the mid-eighteenth century, as well as the alterations in the usage of the eszett as prescribed by the German orthography reform of 1996, which he considers to be an illegal usurpation and degradation of the German language.
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The eszett, or sharp s, is an integral part of the German language and its dialects. One of only a handful of letters worldwide with no orthographical majuscule form, the eszett is rendered ß, and may be capitalized as ẞ for use in all- and small-cap typography. Occasionally, and especially pre-Unicodification of the character, the capital eszett would appear as 阝. When the character is unavailable, it may be substituted with 'ss' or 'sz', depending on situation.
The eszett is only natively found in the German language and its dialects, and as such, only German-language orthography rules apply to its use. Despite its ability to be substituted with 'ss', one should not consider the eszett a replacement for a double-s, only the other way around. The eszett is usually a distinct letter, and only replaces a double s when such is formed irregularly at the end of a word or word component. Words written with a double-s may not have such substituted with the eszett. Verfassung, for example, must never be written as Verfaßung (in modern orthography; archaically, the latter was an accepted variant). In addition, if an eszett is unavailable, one should always use 'sz' to replace the eszett if substituting in 'ss' would form a different word. For example, substituting 'ss' into the phrase in Maßen ("in limited amounts") would produce the phrase in Massen ("in massive amounts").
Unlike the eszett, the long s (ſ) has no majuscule approximation. In all-caps and small-caps, it is always replaced with a short s (s). Rules for the use of the long s are, by virtue of the two characters being alternative glyphs of each other, combined with rules for use of the short s (s).
The following rules apply to the use of the long and short s in English, Welsh, Cornish, and Lowland Scots. With the exception of the abbreviation and line-break rules, substitution of the long s can be completed automatically using Michael von Preußen's English Long S Replacer.
Note that the above-listed rules are as they applied when the long s fell into disuse in English. Variations in its use evolved over time before then, and may still be occasionally seen in reproductions of antiquated text. The 1765 printing of Danby Pickering's Statutes at Large, for instance, made liberal usage of ſſ, only adjusting to ſs at word-end.
Especially in blackletter typefaces, two glyphs exist for the minuscule letter r: that which survives to the modern Antiqua orthography, and the r rotunda (ꝛ). The latter is used following certain letters with a rounded right edge, and as such, like the long s, properly has no majuscule form. The uppercase variant Ꝛ is encoded as of Unicode 5.1, however, and unlike the capital eszett is considered to be the uppercase form of 'ꝛ'. As such, care should be taken when converting lowercase text including the r rotunda to uppercase, as converting 'ꝛ' to 'R' is normally a preferable course of action.
In his 1755 Printer's Grammar, John Smith established that the r rotunda should follow the majuscule letters B, D, G, O, P, U, and W, and the minuscule b, d, h, o, p, and w. He noted, however, that in German these rules seldom applied. In common practice, usage of the r rotunda varied wildly until the eclipse of blackletter by Antiqua scripts: in English by the close of the eighteenth century, and in German, by government edict in 1941.
The following may be taken as general guidelines for use:
- The r rotunda follows the letters B, D, Ð, O, b, ð, h, o, p, ꝛ, and þ.
- The r rotunda follows the letters G, H, Þ, U, V, W, d, u, v, w, and y when they are written in such a way as to present a rounded right edge from the baseline to the median (for example, '∂' or 'ℌ').
- An apostrophe can intervene between a round-edged letter and the r rotunda; thus they'ꝛe.
There is inconsistent evidence for whether or not the r rotunda should be used following the non-rotund letter 'r', with some typesetters opting to write the geminate consonant 'rꝛ'—for example, in the German-language Schönsperger Bible, which consistently transcribes der Herr as der Herꝛ.