Language style guide vs cover?

The german language style guide talks about the use of “ß” for double-s.

Do we strictly follow this style guide even if a double-s word is written on the cover with two “s” instead of one “ß”?
Example title “Das weisse Lied”:

The new uploaded cover-art shows “Das weisse Lied” not only on the front cover with “ss” it is also written with two “s” on the back-cover tracklist:

That’s a bit strange here. My first reaction was that it is only written with double s because it is written in all capitals on the cover and back. In that case this would be just a layout / design decision on the typography and I would be for writing it correctly with ß and proper casing.

But on the spine it is written with lower case letters, but also uses double s. Maybe this was just done for consistency with the front / back. So this makes it a bit more complicated. On their homepage it is also written with ss, see . But again there is also a release title written as “Weissgold”, where it clearly says “Weißgold” on the cover.

So one could argue for artist intent here, but to me it looks more like a random design decision.

They have several tracktitles listed with “ß”:
“Weiß wie der Schnee”
“Auf Weißer Tour - Dokumentation” (-> “weißer” should be written in small letters)

but also several with “ss”:
“Der Kuss”
“Das weisse Lied”
“Am Fluss”

Particularly since the spelling revision in 1996 the use of the ß is inconsistent: Some follow still the old rules, some systematically use “ss” instead (even when the ß would be correct), and in Switzerland the ß ist out of use since the 1940s

So (for releases) I’d go for “as on cover” as a general rule, but would follow the official guidelines in case of inconsistencies (but this may just be my swiss point of view :wink:


Apart from “Das weisse Lied” all these spellings are correct according to the current German (non-Swiss) spelling rules.

But looking at the discography page linked by outsidecontext, and also at all the cover art where “Das weisse Lied” is consistently written with double s, I think it might be artist intent. Actually, it could be a word play on “weise” (wise). In that case, “weiß” in “Weiß wie der Schnee” and “Weißgold” could be meant in the usual sense and thus be written with ß. “Auf Weißer Tour” could be an error or not.

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Do you suggest to you use this order:

  1. Artist intent (=release and tracktitles as written on cover)

  2. German orthography reform of 1996:

In general in German, long stressed vowels are followed by single consonants, and short stressed vowels by double consonants. In the traditional orthography, “ß” was written instead of “ss” if the s phoneme belonged to only one syllable, thus in terminal position and before consonants “ss” was always written as “ß”, without regard to the length of the preceding vowel. In the reformed orthography, a short stressed vowel is never followed by “ß”.

3 . Style guide

Regarding the question of whether to go for the spelling used on the cover or following the style guidelines (which “include” the standard spelling rules for the language used) the pages on the MusicBrainz style principles ( and should clear that up. So, follow the spelling on the cover if it is intended to be written that way by the artist. Otherwise, follow the style guidelines.

I was just presenting evidence for the case of artist intent. I did not want to give a conclusive answer. The spelling with “ss” might be an oversight on the artist’s side or maybe they don’t care. In any of these cases, the way it is currently entered in the database (spelling corrected, with ß) would be the way to go.

(An oversight on my part: “Finsterniss” is also not correct, the correct spelling would be “Finsternis”.)

I actually brought up the same thing a month or two ago, and learned that some of the style guides have gotten a bit out of date: error correction is most noticeable being almost completely obsolete, but in general we tend more toward “as written” now than “as standardized.” Capitalization seems to be one of the last points we still change – outside of classical or, for a different reason, Japanese releases – but given that we have the name in lowercase, that doesn’t really apply here. Between the cover and a (tenuous) argument for artist intent both pointing to “ss” over “ß”, I’d say go with the former and add the latter as a “search hint” alias.

EDIT: Well, not exactly “the same thing”; I’ve never asked about German album naming, just how strongly we correct for errors and artist intent.

Er. Is it? As far as I know, we’re still supposed to correct errors, and I’m the one deciding style changes, so… :smiley:


Thanks for the correction about corrections! Apparently, I misunderstood what people were saying back in the other thread. Luckily, I don’t remember coming across anything that that misunderstanding would have affected.