Occasionally in recent weeks, this blog has provided information on keyboard shortcuts for unusual characters (unusual for English that is. Ed.) on a Linux keyboard.

The last of these took the umlaut (diaresis) as its subject (posts passim).

German road sign for Schloßstraße in Erfurt

German road sign for Schloßstraße in Erfurt

Today, attention turns once again to German and the s key, which can produce two characters, depending upon the combination of keystrokes.

Depressing the AltGr key and s produces “ß“, the German sharp s or esszett, usually transcribed in English as ss.

The other character that can be produced is “§“, which can be produced with the AltGr, Shift and s keys.

It is believed to originate from the Latin signum sectionis, meaning section sign and usually turns up in with reference to legal documents.

Where more than one section of a legal text is involved, the sign is repeated, i.e §§.