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Last German orthography (spelling) reform in 1996.

  • 1620

I started this small quest a week or so ago when I wanted to know why Tschüß was not longer considered acceptable so it is Tschüss now. This led me to the "s-rule". Which covers approximately 90% of the changes implemented in the spelling reform.

Then there are the Capitalization and Compound Words changes. Knowing the changes hopefully will help me in the long run. I first learned German in high school in the late 60's, early 70's. Thankfully I didn't learn it very well at all or I would have to relearn a lot of things.

I think the major goal was (my conjecture) to help with pronunciation. So after I learn all the exceptions to these rules, I should be able to pronounce new words without hearing them? Well, not quite, but it should help.

I am very curious what problems you native speakers, who were past secondary school, encountered after the reform. How did you feel about it? Do you think it was a good thing or not?

Looking forward to hearing from you, Susan

November 19, 2017



Hi Susan,

I finished school before the so called 'Rechtsschreibreform'. The wanted to make spelling easier for pupils. Many said the difficult spelling is to blame for the bad results of german pupils in the subject german.

So Delphin became Delfin, Friseur became Frisör and zu Hause was from now on zuhause. To be honest, I hate this reform until now. They changed so many 'little' things and I'm to lazy to learn everything again. So I do what a lot of older people and many newspaper to. I write it the old way. Or I look it up.

In my opinion this made nothing better or easier. If children now ask their parents how to write a word they only get the wrong (old) answser or thei have to look up together. It confused and unsettled the majority of people.

And they even made it worse. We had a reform of the reform in 2004 and in 2006 and so on. Last changes were this year. They took back distasters like 'Majonäse' or 'Ketschup'

here a few links:




https://www.korrekturen.de/wortliste.shtml (a very good site in my opinion)

have fun -.-

best regards Angel


I fully agree on that. Not to mention other desastrous things such as the write-as-you-hear in elementary schools - for a language that is NOT phonetic. :-(

  • 1620

Steffi, they have been doing the same thing here in the States. They call it Hooked on Phonics. Can you imagine that for English?


Not really :) all those silent letters ...
I've looked it up, but am not sure if I understand it correctly: was it mandatory for every child as in Germany? The description of thr program on Wikipedia sounds very commercial.


yes, another horror for pupils!


I am just waiting for the reformers to arrive where they started.

  • 1620

Liebe Angel, Vielen Dank. Ich werde auf die Links schauen.

Tschüss, Susan


That's funny I ran into this when I was playing on a a German server in Minecraft. I was just going along and then when the other person playing at the time had to go she said 'Tschüß'. This didn't seem to makes sense so I launched a discussion on it. The people also mentioned the 'spelling reform'. This seems funny to me that you would try to reform the spelling. I have actually changed to using 'Tschüß' now because it's a lot of fun and I can class myself as 'an old timer'. (really I'm very knew timer but meh). :D

  • 1620

cluney2 - I like Tschüß also, but Duden says it is wrong; boo-hoo. I think it is more of a northern thing. I remember it being said when I was in the state of Hesse. And, maybe that is one of the reasons that people in Nuremberg thought I had a Hessian dialect. I used to say Bitte, bitte a lot but I don't remember if it was in Bavaria or Hesse.

I found this comment: Bavarians saying "Tschüss" is somewhat awkward, so some efforts of culturally adapting fails. (main reason: there's no "ü" sound in most Bavarian dialects. I remember Angel saying once that she found Tschüss awkward; maybe this is why.

Bis später, Susan

  • 120

I remember it being said when I was in the state of Hesse.

Don't worry, you can still transcribe a "long-ü" tschüss, because tschüs is an accepted spelling.


Nah, I think it's just about regional differences in, well, expressions. Nothing to do with the "ü". "Tschüs(s)" just isn't "native" south of the Weißwurstäquator (white sausage equator: the line that divides civilisation from barbarianism. Which is which depends on which side of it you live on.), just as "Grüß Gott" (or "Pfiadi [Gott]", if we stick with goodbyes) isn't "native" in the north. And since Bavarians have that general dislike of "Prussians", they dislike "Tschüs(s)". Same goes for Austrians and their dislike of "Piefke" (no plural). "Tschüs(s)" makes a bit of a harsh sound that does sound a little bit "Prussian-militarian" compared to Bavarian "Gemütlichkeit".

"Bitte, bitte": for "you're welcome", right? I think that's basically in use throughout Germany, although lately people tend to say "gerne" more often. In Nuremberg (as well as in Bavaria* and Austria), if you're not too enthusiastic about the favour you've done somebody, people traditionally say "passt scho(n)" ("it's okay", lit. "[it] fits 'already'").

(* Note that Nuremberg is not in Bavaria, despite what those maps say. ;-) Linguistically, Franconian is a different dialect altogether. They have an easier way of saying goodbye instead of "pfiadi", namely "ade", which derives from "adieu".)


Hi Susan,

you are right, I mentioned it. It's like stepintime wrote. Tschüss is introduced by the "Prussians" (Preißn) to Bavaria. But you can hear it very often here nowadays. It becomes more and more common. And it doesn't matter if you pronounce it short, long, hard or soft. It differs and depends on the area you are in Germany. You can hear every version of it. Just travel a little bit around.

Tschüß und Servus Angel


I'm not a native German speaker either and like Susan, I also learned German at school (back in the 80's). While I had forgotten a lot I hadn't forgotten some things and ß was one of them.

I wasn't very happy to hear from my German teacher at the start of the semester that it was being phased out! I always liked this little character not just in the hints it could give you about pronunciation, but I always just thought it looked really cool when you looked at a book and saw these ß characters scattered across the page.

  • 120

I wasn't very happy to hear from my German teacher at the start of the semester that it was being phased out!

Your German teacher was wrong: it hasn't been phased out, nor was this ever planned. Rather, the rules for its usage have been changed. In fact, 2017 was a particularly good year for ß, since the *Rat für deutsche Rechtschreibung approved the use of its upper-case version ẞ.

I always liked this little character not just in the hints it could give you about pronunciation...

In this case you should be pleased, because the new rules are more phonetically consistent than the old ones :).



I wasn't past secondary school, when the reform happened. I had the misfortune of being in school at the time. And I kind of wish I was either younger or older, because the timing was really bad.

I already learnt to spell and had to re-learn it while being graded on it. There was some leniency so, we were allowed to use the old spelling by most teachers, but it had to be either that or the new one, no mixing, which made it difficult, because at the same time we were exposed to more of the reformed spelling.

Well, my grades didn't profit from it and I still use a mixed spelling, because some stuff isn't easy to relearn and especially the examples Angels gave look "more right" in the old spelling. Well except the "zu Hause"/"zuhause" part and other similar expressions that got merged or separated. I never know which one is which spelling and don't even consistently use one of them. It sort of depends on my mood if I use "zu Hause" or "zuhause".

Changing "daß" to "dass" was the main thing I corrected in school after I was finished with a text, when I realized what spelling I used so it would be uniform. ;) At first I didn't consistently pick one over the other, but it was one of the things that was easy to relearn. But I still have trouble accepting "ph" as "f" and prefer the former and I'm glad that it's a bit more "pick what you like" now. Going to a German-French school, I also especially hated how the French spelling was suddenly wrong in German when it was okay before. What I did like and always came more naturally to me was that triple consonants in compound nouns are correct under the reform like in "Schifffahrt" it looks weird, but makes more sense (and still I actually spelt it "Schiffahrt" for a moment there).
The changes from ß to ss didn't seem to be as much of a problem, I think... Or I don't realize it.

In general, the reform was a very mixed bag, that was neither good nor bad. Some changes are good and easier for learners, others are just bad and it's a telling sign that they still correct changes from 20 years ago, sometimes allow more than one spelling and newspapers often have their own spelling conventions.

  • 1620

Your story is incredibly interesting. Do you guys have a support group for victims of the Rechtsschreibreform? Thanks for sharing.


I still sound pretty confused and angry at it, don't I? The good thing is since it happened to everyone you don't even need a support group, every German who was alive at the time is automatically in it. ;)

I imagine it had to be really hard for teachers as well.


Hi Sue,

yes, pick what you like is my motto! But most of the time I stuck with the old fashioned spelling. And to be honest I don't care if it is written zuhause or zu Hause, Hauptsache 'Dahoam'!

You have my sympathy. It must have been hard to have this unfortunate reform during school. And yes I think every German is in that support group. Maybe it is worth asking the book of worldrecords for an entry. For the biggest support group? :-))

best regards Angel


I was born and grew up in Germany, but went to school through the medium of English, so I wasn't explicitly taught much German spelling. (We had German classes at school, but that's not quite the same as children who get taught through the medium of German.)

In general, I think my spelling pretty decent, but I am often unsure with the parts of spelling that you can't hear -- especially comma placement, capitalisation, and writing words together or separately.

I felt that the rules for the last two were fairly complex, and the spelling reform didn't help me since the new rules are different but still complex.

One problem is that it's not always easy to decide how "nouny" a word is or how closely related two words are; it's often a sliding scale rather than a yes-no answer. And so many decisions about capitalisation and together/separate are essentially arbitrary.

Some of the new spellings look a bit silly to me because I'm used to the old ones (e.g. Stängel). And they're not completely consistent, either (Eltern, Drittel, Mittag did not become Ältern, Dritttel, Mitttag, for example).

About the only part I have no problem with is the new rules for ß, since they are easy to understand.


Hi Philip,

I think you mentioned the main problem. The new rules aren't easier and they are not consistent and still complex. So no help just confuion for everyone!

(Eltern, Drittel, Mittag did not become Ältern, Dritttel, Mitttag, for example). !?!?!? I overread this changes or I just supplanted them. They burning my eyes!

Maybe we older ones are also to blame because we refused to accept and learn the new rules. But there were so many little and unnecessary changes that we didn't have the energy and the time to do so. And as you said it looks simply silly, wrong or at least awkward to write Tipp, Delfin or so.

Btw your name is a good example for me. It is spelled in an unusual way (for Germans). But it is your name so why on earth would someone try to change it in Filip? Only he is to lazy to learn? Not right. If I want to write your name I have to do it right spelled nothing else.

best regards Angel

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