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Picture of wordcrafter
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Most of us know that the symbols ! ? * and & are called:

! - exclamation point
? - question mark
* - asterisk
& - ampersand

This week we'll consider such symbols that have more obscure names.

pilcrow - the ¶ sign

[This message was edited by wordcrafter on Sun Jul 27th, 2003 at 19:46.]
 
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quote:
! - exclamation point
We Brits call it an exclamation mark. Wink
 
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I was unable to get onto the site yesterday otherwise I'd have made the same point. And, just to forestall another difficulty, I would also point out that the have no "periods" in UK English punctuation.

The mark is, and will always be, a "full stop".

Richard English
 
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Actually, they're correctly referred to in typesetting as full points and exclamation points.

The question mark retains its name.

It's funny, actually, because footnotes are most usually, when they're not being numbered, indexed using the asterisk, the dagger [†] and the double dagger [‡], though many Dutch publishers don't like the dagger, because it reminds them of mortality.

Like many people from the US, I believe, they'll deform a sentence into a total mess just to avoid saying "He died," preferring, as they do to say "passed over".

Other marks are, of course the en-dash, used to separate figures in a range, e.g. "pages 3–25" and the em-dash, originally properly only used parenthetically "he was — for his time — very long-lived".

Another one is, of course, the ellipsis, which is often used with a superfluous full point when used to end a sentence: "I'm very sleee…"

[This message was edited by the_bear on Mon Jul 28th, 2003 at 17:31.]
 
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virgule – the / sign

also known as the diagonal, the separatrix, the slant, the slash, and the solidus

A question for our readers:
What is the proper name of the @ sign?
I've not been able to find any clear answer. A thread has been started to collect our thoughts.

[This message was edited by wordcrafter on Mon Jul 28th, 2003 at 20:32.]
 
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/

If you listen to Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen giving web addresses, he calls it a "stroke". Whether this is because he doesn't like "slash" which seems to be the norm when giving web addresses, or just whether he's trying to sound overly cultured, is a moot point...

For those unfamiliar with LLB, this is hisOfficial Web Site!!!
 
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Before the days of the Web I called it a "stroke" as well, on the rare occasions when I needed to refer to it.

I remember back in the early '80s we used a very early version of the computer and I had to call the engineer for help. He told me to enter "C back-slash..." and I didn't know what he was talking about.
 
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He told me to enter "C back-slash..." and I didn't
know what he was talking about.
___________________________________________

I would have assumed that he wanted you to kill someone. Considering how unwieldy non-Apple computers were in the DOS only days, it seemed a logical conclusion.
 
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macron - the horizontal mark indicating the long pronunciation of a vowel, as in ā

breve - the curved mark indicating the short pronunciation of a vowel, as in ă

diacritical mark - a mark added to a letter to indicate a special pronunciation.
One source indicates that the macron and breve are called quantity marks.
 
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octothorpe – the # sign, as on the telephone

Etymology: Notwithstanding AHD's speculation, World Wide Words cites the most likely origin. Ralph Carlsen of Bell Laboratories records that in the early 1960s Bell Labs introduced the # on new touch-tone telephone handsets. Since the symbol had many names, Bell Labs engineer Don Macpherson felt the need for a fresh and unambiguous name when explaining the new phones to corporate users. MacPherson invented "octothorpe" from octo (Latin for "eight") for the symbol's eight points, and added thorpe to the end because he was active active in a group that was trying to get the Olympic medals of the athlete Jim Thorpe returned from Sweden.
 
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That's a rather good word! I can just imagine it now...

Recorded message: "Welcome to A N Y Company. If you have a touch tone phone, please press the octothorpe key now."

Caller: "Eh? What?"

Big Grin
 
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guillemets - the marks « and »
Guillemets are used in some languages, such as French and Russian, to mark the beginning and end of a quotation.

From the French name Guillaume = William. According to Robert Bringhurst's The Elements of Typographic Style, "The word 'guillemet' is ... in honor of the sixteenth-century typecutter Guillaume [William] le Bé, who may have invented them." (cite taken from web)
 
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Like many people from the US, I believe, they'll deform a sentence into a total mess just to avoid saying "He died," preferring, as they do to say "passed over".


Bear, we say "passed away" here, never "passed over". "Passed over" is what happens when someone in your office will be promoted and you are the one who was "passed over" for the position while the busty blonde airhead gets the job! Razz
 
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Two for one today:

grammalogue - a word shown as a sign, such as & for "and"

tilde - the ~ sign
 
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lemniscate - the or "infinity" symbol
[Latin lemniscatus adorned with ribbons, from lemniscus a ribbon hanging down]

Almost all usages of the word are for its alternate meaning: a particular mathematical curve, which happens to have that shape.
 
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