My German is very limited and I have almost no experience with deciphering Blackletter (Gothic script) text. Would it be permissible to post a picture of a passage of Blackletter German text and ask for the translation?


2 Answers 2


I immediately thought of this question. It is still around and not closed. Does that help us in any way? I don’t think so.

The thing about deciphering blackletter is:

  • It is not specific to German language. When it was en vogue, blackletter types were used all over Europe. Germany just stuck to them for a longer time.

  • It is not hard. Grab yourself any free blackletter font from the internet, write the alphabet in both capitals and lowercase letters, print the page and you have your cheat-sheet to look up letters.

  • The hardest thing may well be to correctly read the ſ (long s). But again, you’re reading; you don’t need to place it. You can remember the nice and easy rule that round s will only occur at the end of a syllable to help you read things correctly — The famous Wachstube anyone? You may occasionally misread ſ as f but you should get the hang of it quickly.

Altogether, I think that a question asking to trans-, trans- … transcode? transcipher? transliterate? blackletter should probably be closed as off-topic because it is not about the language.

  • 2
    You can remember the nice and easy rule that round s will only occur at the end of a syllable to help you read things correctly – Actually, the most simple rule is that an s only occurs at the end of words and word parts. Though an ſ at the end of a syllable happens only before certain letters, those include the most frequent ones to follow an ſ in German and thus an ſ at the end of the syllable is actually more frequent than an s.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Dec 18, 2015 at 5:53
  • Please edit your answer so it spells out a conclusion in the form of a votable statement like "Since Blackletter is neither specific to the GL, nor hard to decipher giving a general reference [--> cheat sheet], questions concerning Blackletter transliteration requests generally are considered off-topic." -- this basically becomes a corollary to the general references rule. Dec 18, 2015 at 8:02
  • 1
    Please note that we do have some well received questions of that kind already which we did not close for being off topic.
    – Takkat
    Dec 18, 2015 at 8:48
  • @hiergiltdiestfu Okay like that?
    – Jan
    Dec 18, 2015 at 22:17

Only because a source is written in an ancient typeface such as "Fraktur" (Blackletter), "Sütterlin", "Kurrent", or whatever alone does not make a question on topic. But it would not automatically make it off topic either.

We do however make sure our question is about the German language, i.e. the source we have is actually written in German (which also may include Old High German and Middle High German).

In addition the question should be of general interest. Now this is a rather subjective thing where it is hard to define the scope. It may be intersting to a wide audience to read from ancient books or historically important documents but it may not be of general interest to hear of greetings written on a private postcard we had found.

As we do not expect too many questions of this kind we probably best decide this on an individual basis. If in doubt everybody is welcome to ask in chat before posting.

  • I fully agree with everything from the second paragraph onwards. Especially with the chat asking.
    – Jan
    Dec 19, 2015 at 14:45

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