Fraktur & German Script

Fraktur is a typeface used in older German books and printed documents.

The first verse of Psalm 23 might look like this in fraktur:

Psalm 23:1 in Fraktur Script

My logo is a fraktur monogram, a capital S.

In Germany, the old German cursive script developed in the 16th century is also sometimes called Fraktur. The word comes from Latin and means “broken script,” so called because of its ornamental curlicues, which break the continuous line of a word.

When the word fraktur is used in English, it generally refers to the typeface. An exception is its use in the Pennsylvania German culture to refer to documents that are illuminated with folk art. Read more about Pennsylvania German Fraktur here.

In Germany, the “broken script” is more commonly known as deutsche Schrift (German script) or Kurrent. It naturally varies from person to person but might look something like this:

"The Broken Script"

For more examples, click on the Samples tab in the menu bar. Today this script is often called Sütterlin, though it was in use centuries before graphic artist Ludwig Sütterlin (1865-1917) was born. The particular version of Kurrent developed by Sütterlin was taught in German schools only from 1935 to 1941, but his name is often applied to all old German script — quite possibly to his chagrin, if he were alive today.

My Links page includes sources for fraktur and German script computer fonts and help for learning to read German script and fraktur.

If you read German, you can also learn more about German script here.

For more information about the German alphabet and its special characters, click here.

Finally, for help in deciphering German script for yourself, check out these tips from colleague Katherine Schober at SK Translations.