In my understanding, many European cultures have compensated for the lack of certain characters on keyboards (especially old typewriters) by “anglicizing” some characters. For example, the German ß becomes ss, the Danish (and others) Å becomes aa.

Is there a list, official or not, of these “compensations”?

(And yes, I do realize that this could very well fit in any other language SE than English, but English would be the common trait to these).

  • I can say already for French the "standard" is to just drop all diacritical marks (accents, umlauts, cedilla) and leave the letter "plain". It passes as an error to other readers, but it is understandable.
    – MPelletier
    Nov 25 '11 at 19:27
  • 2
    There are lots of ISO standards for completely non-latin alphabets but don't know one for diaeresis. ps The technical term is romanization (at least in computers)
    – mgb
    Nov 25 '11 at 19:50
  • 1
    ä sometimes becomes ae.
    – Hugo
    Nov 26 '11 at 9:24


As far as I know, the ß has not been removed in German during the 1996 reform. Its usage has simply been harmonized: ß now consistently appears after long vowels and diphthongs. If I'm correct, we still write "Straße" for street.

The ß originates from the ligature of 'ss'. So, it would not be a big mistake to replace it by 'ss', exactly like writing 'oe' instead of 'œ' (like 'cœur' in French) is acceptable to me.


In most situations, dropping accents is understandable in French. It has been common practice to drop accents on capital letters on type-writers.

However, it is considered a mistake, and modern-age computers allow all types of characters, hence there is no more excuse.

And removing accents can drastically change the meaning in French:

  • L'incroyable marche is the incredible step
  • L'incroyable marché is the incredible market

Bottom line

Use Unicode and a modern operating system with an appropriate input method editor, instead of looking for alternatives.  

  • Switzerland has never used ß (or at least not in the last century) and still doesn't, so street in Switzerland is Strasse and not Straße. So this replacement isn't just used for transliterating from German into English; it's used for transliterating from German into German. The traditional replacements for ä and ö in German are ae and oe. Aside from German and the Scandinavian languages, I don't know of any other traditional character replacements for transliteration into English. Nov 26 '11 at 20:18

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