EDIT long and short "s" forms The lowercase letter "s" has had many various forms throughout history. In many Blackletter typefaces, including those used in the present day, two forms of the lowercase letter "s" are to be found: the "long-s" and the "closing-s".
In German text set with one of these blackletter faces, the long-s typically is used for all "s" appearances in the word, unless the "s" is the last letter of a word or syllable. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but I don't have them on hand to post here.
When the "s" is the last letter of a word or syllable, the closing-s is used. The closing-s sees like the normal lowercase "s" we now use every day. The long-s looks like a long stroke, sort of like a lowercase "f" without its crossbar…
Not just blackletter typefaces use(d) the long-s. Other, classical and baroque serif typefaces used the long-s, until the 17th or 18th century—even in England and the American colonies.
When one combines a long-s and a closing-s, you can easy see how the german double-s (ß—eszett or scharfes s [U+00DF]) came about. This letter represents the "ss" combination, as in the German word for street (Straße, or Strasse).
+ German [ɛs]
+ English [ɛs]
+ French [ɛs]
+ Source //
Mangold, Max. Duden. Das Aussprachewörterbuch. 6. Auflage. Bibliographisches
Institut F. A. Brockhaus AG: Mannheim, 2005.
EDIT International Phonetic Alphabet
+ Example in English // sea [siː]
+ Sound example
+ Alternatives // unknown
+ Former versions // unknown
+ Origin // Latin alphabet, small letter
+ In the IPA since 1887
+ IPA number 132
+ This sound can be found in Armenian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, Georgian, German, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Slovak, Turkish and Vietnamese.
+ Official name in the IPA // ›voiceless alveolar fricative‹
+ Nonstandard // English ›s‹
+ Source //
Principles of the International Phonetic Association, London, 1949. /
Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 1989. /
Wikipedia. Die Liste der IPA-Zeichen & History of the International Phonetic Alphabet. /
Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A Guide to the Use of the International Phonetic Alphabet. /
Pullum, Geoffrey and William A. Ladusaw. Phonetic Symbol Guide. Second edition.
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