Fraktur [fʁakˈtuːɐ] is a calligraphic hand and any of several blackletter typefaces derived from this hand. The word derives from the past participle fractus ("broken") of Latin frangere ("to break"). In contrast to the smooth curves of Antiqua (common) typefaces, which were modeled after antique Roman square capitals and Carolingian minuscule, the blackletter lines are broken up — that is, their forms contain many angles.
The term "Fraktur" is sometimes applied to all of the blackletter typefaces (known in German as Gebrochene Schrift).
In the 1630's Fraktur was the script and typeface commonly used for writing and printing German. After Grantville's arrival, this often caused problems for both up-timers and down-time Germans, as Fraktur and the Antiqua/roman typefaces used for up-time printing were so different that, in some ways, they bordered on being different alphabets.
The stylistic differences between the scripts meant that letters often looked different in Fraktur and in Antiqua/roman typefaces even when they had the same general shape, and some letters had markedly different shapes in each script. Sometimes, letters which looked quite different in one script could look similar in the other, or vice versa. Fraktur, like other 17th century typefaces, also used the "long s" (ſ), which had fallen into disuse long before the Ring of Fire.