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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Media: Washington Post: The @ sign

Submitter: Karen Chung

Submitter Email: karchung@ntu.edu.tw
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Writing Systems
Anthropological Linguistics

Media Body: The Washington Post Sunday, October 2, 2005; Page B02

Where It's At -- and Where It's Not
By Nancy Szokan

...Of course. With a little imagination, I could see that a slice of
strudel resembles the @ sign that separates user name from host in e-mail
addresses. 'Strudel!' I hoot. Winkie, agreeing that it's funny, later sends
me a list of words that people in other countries have used for the @
symbol -- most of them a lot more entertaining (if less efficient) than our
simple 'at.'

The list, it turns out, came from an online site, Herodios.com, and was
based largely on research done in the early days of e-mail by linguist
Karen Steffen Chung of National Taiwan University. Her lengthy collection
of @-words, as well as some additions from Post foreign correspondents,
shows that while many countries have simply adopted the word 'at,' or call
the symbol something like 'circle A' or 'curled A,' more imaginative
descriptions still hold sway in many places.


Karen Chung

Issue Number: 16.2871
Date Posted: October 04, 2005

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