Use of the esszet

Graeme -TE1q

Does anyone know if there is any underlying logic as to when the esszet is used in German as opposed to the double ss?  I find it confusing to remember in the Write It part of Rocket German which way a word is spelled.  For example, weiß and wissen.  It is also confusing that the spelling can change with verb conjugations.  For example, schließen but ich schloss etc.  However, stoßen but du stößt where the esszet is retained.


The Wiki entry has this for a rule:
In German orthography, the grapheme ß, called Eszett (IPA: [ɛsˈtsɛt]) or scharfes S (IPA: [ˈʃaɐ̯fəs ˈʔɛs], [ˈʃaːfəs ˈʔɛs]), in English "sharp S", represents the [s] phoneme in Standard German, specifically when following long vowels and diphthongs, while ss is used after short vowels. The name Eszett represents the German pronunciation of the two letters S and Z.

But Rocket German doesn't stick to the rules and seems to switch randomly between the scharfes s and ss which is annoying in tests.

If I understand it Germans are not very particular about switching between the two, perhaps has something to do with american typewriters that don't have the proper characters for German.

Graeme -TE1q

Many thanks.  The Wiki rule explains why the conjugations change.  Since I am still grappling with Level 1 I had not noticed that Rocket German has a random approach to the esszet.
One thing I have found with the course so far is that I need to be much more precise in enunciating German words that I generally am when speaking English.  This means having to curb a tendency to pronounce certain letter combinations as we would in English (the Australian version that is!)
I am just hoping that if RG's voice recognition software understands me when set at the Easy level, that this will mean that the average person in the street in Germany will be able to do the same.


Something that helped me was from a youtube channel called don't trust the rabbit - a German girl who posts in English.

The message was that Germans love consonants and pronounce them all carefully.  The English on the other hand often swallow them. An example she gave was "matter" when the "tt" is not particularly emphasised and practically disappears in some british accents. When a word ends with "e" it is always pronounced whereas it is silent in English.

On the voice recognition software, I had a German visitor who teaches German to Americans  and when  they tried the speech recognition they did't always get 100%  :-)
I have found that it is very poor on numbers and especially times of day when it can be completely impossible to score 100%. 

Graeme -TE1q

Thanks once again, sfpugh, for your very helpful posts.  Especially your comments about RG's voice recognition software in relation to numbers and times of day.  I had extreme difficulty with the lessons dealing with these topics and am glad to find that the problem might not have been with me!  Curiously though, the speech recognition does not seem to have problems with my pronunciation when numbers are contained within a longer sentence.

But then again, I am never sure whether the software is simply giving me the benefit of the doubt since I have it set to Easy.  I know that sometimes when I have made actual errors, like omitting the final "en" of a word, the software will still give me a 100% rating.

As a suggestion, maybe Rocket German could consider providing additional assistance to students who are finding certain words difficult to pronounce.  Sometimes it is not easy to imitate a recording of someone speaking.  It is also not that easy to try and remember the sound of say, ü, and incorporate that into a word that you are trying to pronounce.  Some travel guides get round this by giving a list of common words with the complete sound of the word spelled out in phonetics which make sense to, in my case, an English speaker.  Once again, this might not be perfect but I picked up some basic Mandarin in this way which seemed to be perfectly intelligible to Chinese speakers when we arrived in China.  How about it, Rocket German team?

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