German alphabet

The German alphabet is the variant of the Latin alphabet, which is used to override the German language. In today's standardized use, it includes 26 basic letters of the Latin alphabet plus the three umlauts ( Ä, Ö, Ü). In Germany, Austria and Luxembourg and the German-speaking minority in Belgium, Denmark (North Schleswig ) Italy (South Tyrol ) and Poland ( Upper Silesia ) the sharp s (ß), however, does not come (even " sharp S" called ) was added, in Switzerland and in Liechtenstein more.

The individual letters have neuter gender ("the A", " B ", etc.).

The 30 letters of the German alphabet are:

Both are in the case of dialects as in historical documents and numerous additional letters were also used. The same applies to the spelling of foreign words.

Origin of the umlaut letters and Eszett

The umlaut characters (ä, ö and ü) originated from the combination of the respective Latin letters (ie a, o and u ) with an umlaut indicating e This mark was first used only optional ( until the 15th century ) - the letter u could both u like u mean. However, an e or i could be set to distinguish since about the 13th century over the letters, rare behind the vice- denominated letters. This small "e" looks in handwritten font from the latest in the 15th century as two vertical bars, from which finally the two points today frequently used were. Some fonts are still using the vertical lines for the umlaut letters. The umlaut letters are now used in many other languages.

The beta, which is also known as a sharp s, is originally a ligature of long s (s ) and either the round s or z in the late medieval bastards and the modern Gothic type. From about the beginning of the 19th century, the Antiqua common in German-speaking countries was. At that time most roman typefaces contained no letter for the beta, prints from the 19th century are therefore often set without ß. In the Orthographic Conference of 1901 was determined that the type foundries had to deliver in the future their roman typefaces ß with the letter and for existing writings a ß was nachzuliefern.

In Versalschrift substitute SS or (more rarely) SZ is written. For official documents and forms, however, is written in capitals name to distinguish a ß to write. Already beginning of the 20th century was the creation of an uppercase uppercase ß discussed by the existing designs but has not enforced. On 4 April 2008, however, the large ß in the Unicode Standard Version 5.1 was recorded as " U 1 E9E " ( ẞ ). Use of uppercase Eszett is mandatory for official geographic names. The long s (s ) is set, occasionally, in the Antiqua, it can be found, for example, still in Leipzig Duden of 1951.

In the German cursive s and h are very similar (h has the descender a loop, s not ), especially when swinging writing these letters are easily confused. This explains a typical error that has occurred in the transmission of proper names of German writing in Latin script: Some families Weiss is now called Weihs.

The name actually means sharp s unvoiced s After the abolition of Schlussbuchstabigkeit of ß in the course of spelling reform of 1996, the letter today (except in name ) for long vowel and diphthong where it describes an unvoiced s

Frequency of letters in German

→ Main article letter frequency

The most common letter is E, followed by N. The rarest letter is the Q. The type of texts ( poetry, prose, manuals, etc.) has no effect on the letters distribution.

The letter pairs ( bigrams ) ER and EN are the most frequent and that end of the word. The most frequent triplets ( trigrams ) are BEAUTIFUL and THE.

Alphabetical sorting

→ Main article Alphabetical Order

The order corresponds to the order of the letters in the alphabet. Deviations and special features relating to the classification of words with umlauts, "ß", digits and special characters.

In the dictionary sorting the umlauts Ä, Ö, Ü as A, O and U are treated (" age, older, old" ), ß as ss. The phonebook sorting umlauts, however, treated as Ae, Oe and Ue. Both variants are described in DIN 5007:1991.

Ligatures and other characters in the font

In addition to the normal letter symbols are used as, for example, the ligature @.

Names of the letters

For the case of most German letter names, there is no tradition. Only for some spellings can be found in the relevant dictionaries, some of them only as a component of compound and derived words ( Tezett, ausixen ). The existing overrides are not consistent ( Zett, Eff, but Jot, Es) in comparison. The name itself (see discussion ) is largely the same in the German language area.

In the following discussion is first called (IPA ), followed by the by the spelling rules possible spellings (since aa and oo are fairly uncommon in final position, variants are thus not mentioned, nor conceivable variants with ä, eg aenn, editing ). Fat are the overrides set, which can also be found in dictionaries.

  • A / a: [a ː ] Ah, A ( only in Abece )
  • Ä / ä: [ ɛ ː ] Uh, Ä; occasionally A- umlaut
  • B / b: [be ː ] Beh, Bee, Be ( only in Abece )
  • C / c: [ tse ː ] Ceh, Cee, Ce (only in Abece )
  • D / d: [ de ː ] Deh Dee, De
  • E / e: [e ː ] Eh, Ee, E
  • F / f: [ ɛf ] Eff (only in pat ), Ef
  • G / g: [ge ː ] Go, Gee, Ge
  • H / h: [ha ː ] Hah, Ha
  • I / i: [i ː ] Ih, I
  • J / j: [ jɔt ] Jott, Jot; in Austria also [as ː ] Jeh, Jee, The
  • K / k: [ ka ː ] Kah, Ka
  • L / L: [ ɛl ] ell, El
  • M / m: [ ɛm ] Emm, Em
  • N / n: [ ɛn ] Enn En
  • O / o: [o ː ] Oh, O
  • Ö / ö [ ø ː ] Uh, Ö; occasionally O- umlaut
  • P / p: [ pe ː ] Peh, Pee, Pe
  • Q / q: [ ku ː ] Quh, Qu; in Austria [ kve ː ] Queh, Quee, Que
  • R / r: [ ɛr ] Err, He
  • S / s: [ ɛs ] Ess, It (only in Eszett )
  • ẞ / ß: [ ɛs't͡sɛt ] Esszett, Eszett, Esszet, Eszet; also: sharp S [ ɛs ] (other names see ß )
  • T / t: [te ː ] Teh, tea, Te (only in Tezett )
  • U / u: [u ː ] Uh, U
  • Ü / ü: [y ː ] Uh, T; occasionally U- umlaut
  • V / v: [ faʊ ] Vau
  • W / w: [ ve ː ] Woe, Wee, We
  • Y / y: [' ʏpsilɔn ] Ypsilon
  • Z / z: [ t͡sɛt ] Zett, Zet


The letters have the following order of the alphabet:

The ẞ / ß ( sharp s ) can either be equated with the S / s or after Z / z are added.

This order does not apply to all sorting algorithms, especially in the classification of words with umlauts and sharp s There may be variations.