The German orthography reform of 1996 (Rechtschreibreform) was an attempt to simplify the spelling of the German language and thus to make it easier to learn, without substantially changing the rules familiar to all living users of the language.
The reform was based on an international agreement signed in Vienna in July 1996 by the governments of the German-speaking countries of Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Luxembourg, in which German is one of the three official languages, regarded itself "as a non-German-speaking country not to be a contributory determinant upon the German system of spelling" (statement of the Luxembourg Ministry of Education).
The reformed orthography became obligatory in schools and in public administration. However, there was a campaign against the reform and in the resulting public debate the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany was called upon to delineate the extent of reform. In 1998 the court stated that because there was no law governing orthography, outside the schools people could spell as they liked, including the use of traditional spelling. In March 2006, the Council for German Orthography agreed unanimously to remove the most controversial changes from the reform; this was accepted by media organizations such as the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that had previously opposed the reform.
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