Unicase germandbls

Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,003
edited October 2021 in Technique and Theory

Double s, or capital eszett?


  • Not a german, but if capital eszett is already a (debatable) thing, then surely unicase eszett must be a thing. It's the kind of oddity that fits perfectly with the genre, I'd say.
  • I like the capital eszett even though in this situation I would use the double S.
  • Vasil StanevVasil Stanev Posts: 716
    edited October 2021
    This was discussed several times on the board, if I'm not mistaken. :) Since unicase is mostly, like smallcaps, based on the capitals, better make a version based on the cap Eszett and leave the double S as two normal SS to be typed out. This is what I would do. Better more than sorry.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,003
    Thanks Jasper, “oddity for oddity” —and if typographers are uncomfortable with the capital form, they can always type out two s’s. 
  • edited October 2021
    As a former German, I wholly welcome the capital Eszett. As a former German I can also say that it's weird as heck. 

    I include one in all my fonts now, and let the users figure out what they want to use. 

  • edited October 2021
    The old rules in Duden (capital ß not available):

    - use SS for ß in capital letters
    - to avoid confusion use SZ, e.g. MASSE (EN: mass) versus MASZE (EN: measures)

    Swiss German uses always ss instead of ß by Swiss rules. But that's not true in modern texts in the web.

    New rules in Duden, if capital ß is not available:

    - use lower case ß in capital letters

    My recommendation for font designers: provide the capital ß, if possible. It's a decision of the user, which variant is preferred.

    In historical typography we can find all shapes and practices for ß. Even longs_s ligature and longs_z ligature (3-shaped z) in the same font on the same page.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,003
    Thanks Helmut, I have indeed been including capital ß in all my typefaces since it became a Unicode character—but my concern here is for unicase.

    As Oliver’s specimen shows, there is certainly a history of unicase forms in German (not to mention Bayer’s bent pipe Bauhaus design). So I wonder, is it now viewed as an historical oddity, or what? And how might the new recognition of cap ß affect unicase?
  • As Oliver’s specimen shows

    NB:  That's not an old specimen, these are fonts I've recently revived :) To my knowledge, none of the originals featured a capital Eszett; these are my own designs. 
  • edited October 2021
    Thanks Helmut, I have indeed been including capital ß in all my typefaces since it became a Unicode character—but my concern here is for unicase.

    IMHO it's easy: If you map the codepoints of lowercase and uppercase letters to the same glyph in your font, then also map U+00DF LATIN SMALL LETTER SHARP S (Lowercase_Letter) and U+1E9E LATIN CAPITAL LETTER SHARP S (Uppercase_Letter) to the same glyph. As simple as that. Problem solved. Don't restrict the user.

    Sure, Unicode defines upper case for LATIN SMALL LETTER SHARP S to be 'SS', but this is application level and not font level.

    Depending on your design idea it can make sense to provide discretionary ligatures for 'SS' and 'SZ' at users choice, but only for the sequence \s + ZWJ + \s resp. \s + ZWJ + \z. 

    In history a few metal fonts had a capital eszett for e. g. company names. It was very seldom. As Oliver Weiss wrote there are no (known) samples of capital eszett in the original fonts of Art Nouveau. But I wouldn't be surprised if some of the famous designers of this period created and used one somewhere. Many posters and front pages of periodicals in this period are single-shot designs with variations of shapes.
  • The historical examples I've seen seem to employ Eszett opportunistically, in book titles and other highly formatted text where SS or SZ may have been too wide. 
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,003
    Oliver Weiss said:
    That's not an old specimen
    Yes, I realize that, but the unicase (minuscule forms of m and n in an otherwise majuscule setting) were in the original.

    But perhaps I am being Anglocentric in describing m and n as minuscule forms, because they are the norm in Fraktur majuscules!  

  • @Nick Shinn I see what you mean. But as you say, these letterforms are generally based on Fraktur, so you only get the, er, illusion of unicase. With the exception of the topmost one (Maria Theresia Caps), they all have a lower case. 
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