Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

German spelling reform

The German spelling reform (Rechtschreibreform) was an international agreement signed in 1996 by the governments of the German-speaking countries (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland), about the reform of German spelling. This is being phased in gradually, and not until 2006 will use of the old spellings be unacceptable.

The spelling reform is an attempt to simplify and making the orthography easier to learn, without changing the familiar rules of the German language substantially. Most of the reforms are changing ß to ss (Schloss instead of Schloß) after short vowels, some reanalysis of compound words into separate words, (ab sein instead of absein), demerging of letters in compound words (Stemmmeißel instead of Stemmeißel), and regularising of loan words (Cornedbeef instead of Corned beef).

The reform has not been without controversy. A referendum in Schleswig-Holstein voted against the new orthography in 1998, and on August 1, 2000, the leading conservative daily, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, returned to the older spelling. Most books and newspapers nowadays are published more or less in the new spelling.

See also: Spelling reform