German 101

German is written using the Latin alphabet. In addition to the 26 standard letters, German has three vowels with Umlaut, namely ä, ö and ü, as well as a special symbol for "ss", which is used only after long vowels or diphthongs (and not used at all in Switzerland), the Eszett or Scharfes-S (sharp "s") ß.

Until the early 20th century, German was mostly printed in blackletter typefaces (mostly in fraktur, but also in Schwabacher) and written in corresponding handwriting (for example Kurrent and Sütterlin). These variants of the Latin alphabet are very different from the serif or sans serif antiqua typefaces used today, and are difficult for the untrained to read. They were abolished by the Nazis (incorrectly claiming that these letters are Jewish) in 1941 but this has been retained for broader and easier usability.

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