We've decided to part with our high-potential domain: What do you call the symbol used in e-mail addresses? Surprisingly though, there is no official, universal name for this sign.
There are dozens of strange terms to describe the symbol. Several languages use words that associate the shape of the symbol with some type of animal. For instance, some quirky names for the symbol include: With the introduction of e-mail came the popularity of the symbol. The symbol or the "at sign" separates a person's online user name from his mail server address.
For instance, joe uselessknowledge. Its widespread use on the Internet made it necessary to put this symbol on keyboards in other countries that have never seen or used the symbol before. As a result, there is really no official name for this symbol. The actual origin of the symbol remains an enigma. History tells us that the symbol stemmed from the tired hands of the medieval monks. During the Middle Ages before the invention of printing presses, every letter of a word had to be painstakingly transcribed by hand for each copy of a published book.
The monks that performed these long, tedious copying duties looked for ways to reduce the number of individual strokes per word for common words. Although the word "at" is quite short to begin with, it was a common enough word in texts and documents that medieval monks thought it would be quicker and easier to shorten the word "at" even more. As a result, the monks looped the "t" around the "a" and created it into a circle-eliminating two strokes of the pen.
Another story tells the symbol was used as an abbreviation for the word amphora. Amphora was the unit of measurement that determined the amount held by the large terra cotta jars that were used to ship grain, spices and wine.
Giorgio Stabile, an Italian scholar, discovered the symbol in a letter written in by a Florentine trader named Francesco Lapi. It seems likely that some industrious trader saw the symbol in a book transcribed by monks using the symbol and appropriated it for use as the amphora abbreviation. This would also explain why it became common to use the symbol in relation to quantities of something.
A lowercase "a", with a curly cue running around it counterclockwise, the , enjoying a career of worldwide proportions, is now powerfully settling into German consciousness as well.
It has long been known to computer users. They simply hit Shift, 2 the German keyboard equivalent: Germans call it "Klammeraffe" literally translated: Zoologists wonder about this, because "Klammeraffen" correctly known as spider monkeys from Africa have been their area of expertise till now. The symbol "Klammeraffe" supposedly had its origin in the English "at". Supposedly, because our German encyclopedias and scholars still remain silent on the subject.
The man-on-the-street with an interest in literature is also rather puzzeled by the new symbol. Anyone consulting the encyclopedias will be harshly disappointed. Even the Duden Computer Science Dictionary shines in its lack of knowledge on all keyword levels.
Yet this sign has already become an integral part in periodical headlines and numerous word games also in Germany where it replaces the "a". Printers and typographers have long been acquainted with it. They must print business cards and criticize in surly manner the all too large upper and lower lengths of the.
Increasingly, people have their electronic mail e-mail codes noted on their cards. The at sign, "Klammeraffe", separates the person from the machine for the Internet and e-mail alike: They had asked him to come up with a system for electronic mail.
Tomlinson was searching for a way to clearly and unmistakably separate the name of the user from the machines' and domains' identities.
He searched for a symbol, which would never appear in a person's name. So he scrutinized the keyboard, the one he himself was using, a "Model 33 Teletype". The symbol could not be a number or a letter. The , "Affenohr" monkey ear , had an advantage because it signifies "at" and, therefore, complied with Tomlinson's requirements.
Tomlinson had no idea that he was paving the world with a new letter. Yet, many of his friends where appalled at his decision, because in computer systems of that time the "Klammeraffe" was the control character for deleting a line; now suddenly, the "line killing" character was shortening letters in an awkward manner. In April , this problem too was solved by way of a new agreement on a standard letterhead.
The , at sign, could no longer murder lines, but rather spread harmlessly. Anyone desiring to research the early origin of this fashionable symbol from America, which has so forcefully invaded our culture, has a hard nut to crack.
By the old master of German typographers, Hermann Zapf of Frankfurt am Main , had already collected and published all relevant pictographs and type signals in "Zapf Dingbats". Two variations of the at sign "Klammeraffe" appear there.
Therefore, the "at" sign was already so well established in the USA, that it was allowed before the uppercase "a" on the code list. Our at sign "Klammeraffe" was not yet represented in the 5-bit code of the 19th century Frenchman, Emile Baudot data speed "baud" was named for him.
Merchants in England had supposedly written the on their price tags in this way for a long time. That's why the at sign "Klammeraffe" is called a "commercial a" in the English speaking world.
As such, it was already found on the first American typewriters. It appears to have been at home in Sweden for an equally long time. Much earlier still, the symbol appeared on the Iberian Peninsula; it is said to have been brought there for the first time in the year Spanish, Portuguese and then French merchants as well dealt in steers and wine, thereby using a measure for solids and liquids, "arroba", approximately 10 kilograms 25 libras or about 15 litres.
The word Ar-roub is of Arabic origin and means " a quarter". The name arroba for has been preserved in Spain and France ever since. He found it in newspaper Repubblica: Anyone looking further back still, will encounter, after a huge void - computer freaks are noticeably no fans of history - and without fail the American handwriting researcher and paleographer Berthold Louis Ullman, who held the opinion in his book "Ancient Writing and its Influence" , Reprint Cambridge , Reprint Toronto [Z U4], that the "Klammeraffe" was supposedly a monastic ligature or abbreviation in Latin handwritings of the Middle Ages.
Writers of that time had supposedly used it to abbreviate the Latin "ad" at, to , a common word at that time, due to a lack of space or for convenience sake. But neither Ullman's book with any sort of evidence nor another veritable quotation with an at sign "Klammeraffe" from the Middle Ages was to be found.
Indeed, abbreviations and ligatures only came about six hundred years later. The five Latin documents of the late Middle Ages, which were found in my private little library, foundation documents and the like, a coincidence test then, all had well written out "ad"s in many variations. But they were calligraphic, official documents. Incorrect reports are found in books on signs and symbols from all over the world as well.
No sign in Middle Age. The at sign "Klammeraffe" is nowhere to be found there. Only an initial from the 9th century shows great similarity to the , but this is an uppercase G. A medievalist, professor, connoisseur of handwriting from Freiburg University in Germany, laughed derisively when asked about an "Affenohr" in Latin handwriting: A presently overflowing source for international naming of the at sign " is the Internet.
The American linguist Karen Steffen Chung, who resides in Taiwan, had asked about the name of the symbol in the native tongue of her addressees per e-mail. The list, which she publicized in the Internet, encompasses -- with addendum -- 40 languages including Esperanto, referred to her by senders from many countries. Our set no limits for linguistic fantasy.
The new names reach from the Serbian "crazy a" to the poetic Turkish "rose". One Esperanto fan baptized it spider monkey, the Danes call the sow's tail, while the Danes, Norwegians and Swedes call it an elephant's trunk.
The British, the French, the Israelis and the Koreans made a snail of it, which results in a curious contrast to "snail mail". The Mandarin Chinese call the little mouse, the Greeks duckling. The Finns and Swedes have conceived cat metaphors as well: The Russians in contrast always call the puppy sobachka.
The Spanish, Portuguese, Catalonians and French continue in the use of the old Arabic name for measure: Pastry has to sacrifice for the old Hebrew strudel, the Swedish cinnamon roll, maybe for the Polish pig's ear, a sweet pastry delight, in any case for the Russian round biscuit. Worm or maggot Kukac is what the Hungarians call the , the Thais ringed worm. Strong in visual imagination the Norwegians: Very witty are the British, who with a strong visual imagination quite simply call the laughter.
A particularly original depiction comes from Chechen and out of Slovakia: While explaining this word, the document broke off. Michael Justin has found out, that in the Swedish language the symbol also means beaked-A". Additionally, 1 is also pronounced 'et' - for eleven sip-et , twenty-one yi-sip-et , thirty-one song-sip-et , etc.
So it's a trunk-a in Swedish, among other names". This plate was a model for writing by the Venetian master writer Augustino, dating back to the year Here our "Affenohr" actually appears very precisely and identical in form. However, in this model for writing, it is merely shown as an artistic form of the lowercase a.
A historically interested lawyer, Dr. Raimund Weber of Heubach in Germany, brought forth a "Klammeraffe" with yet another meaning. In the records of the Reichskammergericht Imperial Chamber Court of the 18th century, the already exists with the meaning "contra" versus: