Re: Proposal for German capital letter "ß"

Philippe Verdy verdy_p at
Thu Dec 10 06:40:02 CST 2015

2015-12-10 5:32 GMT+01:00 Martin J. Dürst <duerst at>:

> This is an interesting example of a phenomenon that turns up in many other
> contexts, too. A similar example is the use of accents on upper-case
> letters in French in France where 'officially', upper-case letters are
> written without accents. When working on internationalization, it's always
> good to keep eyes open and not just only follow the rules.

Please define "officially". If you consider the official French Academy,
capitals MUST carry their accents. And most official institutions strongly
support accents (inclucing the Imprimerie Nationale in its official
typographic recomandations: it is the official printer of official
publications for almost all national institutions, including all legal

Do you have any single example of capitals without accents? I know there
are other commendations by private or semi-private companies but only for
limited scopes of use: "La Poste" for addresses on envelops (where you
theoretically also must use any punctuation,including hyphens, commas,
abbreviating dots, but where you also have to use abreviations in many
cases for city names and street names). La Poste is not really an official
lingusitic institution, its needs there are only for printed address
labels. And La Poste is no longer a monopole in France for postal services,
other private postal services have their own recommandations and don't care
about the historic recommandations made by La Poste.

There are other recommandations used in various databases (e.g. the FANTOIR
database made by municipalities and the French casatre for fiscal
purposes), but the scope of use is not really for the French language
itself, but for simple searches in that database. Here again there's no
lowercase letters, and accents are frequently omitted. This is in fact a
legacy inherited after several decenials of use of computers on systems
that initially had no support of Unicode, and when many systems used
various incompatible charsets, frequently undocumented: in those databses,
basic ASCII still rules, but there are more modern formats adding other
fields with more exact distinctions of case and accents.

Even before computers, the French typewriters had capitals with accents.
Accents started disapearing in the 1970's with modern computers,
unfortuantely using softwares made in US and ignoring the French
requirements. Accents are back today, but still not on French keyboards for
PC, due to lack of support in default keyboard layouts (notably on
Windows): they are present on virtual keyboards for smartphones, on
keyboards for Mac, on layouts for Linux.

Only Microsoft is very late on restoring accents on a supported layouts for
Windows (it would then convince keyboard manufacturers to restore the
missing accents on the keycaps).
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