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Germany

German Publisher Drops Language Reform

One of Germany's largest publishing houses has announced it will stop printing newspapers according to new rules governing written German. The chairman from Axel Springer said the Bild am Sonntag weekly would return to the old style of spelling and punctuation starting Oct. 3. On the following day, the mass-circulation tabloid Bild, the conservative Die Welt and city newspapers Hamburger Abendblatt and Berliner Morgenpost will all follow suit, Mathias Döpfner said Sunday. The publisher's magazines will slowly phase out the new system as well, he said.

Axel Springer's move reflects a growing trend in Germany to reverse the language reform, which was agreed to in 1994 by all German-speaking countries as a means of streamlining the number of orthographic rules and other aspects of writing. It is slated to become obligatory in education and public administration in 2005. One of the most obvious changes is the replacement of the special German character "ß" for a double "s."

In early August, the conservative Springer publishing house and Spiegel, center-left publisher of the reputable news weekly Der Spiegel, announced they would revert to the old system because of the "increasing lack of acceptance and uncertainty surrounding the German language."

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