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LINGUIST List 19.2973

Wed Oct 01 2008

Books: Writing Systems: Humez, Humez

Editor for this issue: Hannah Morales <hannahlinguistlist.org>

Links to the websites of all LINGUIST's supporting publishers are available at the end of this issue.
        1.    Elyse Turr, On the Dot: Humez, Humez

Message 1: On the Dot: Humez, Humez
Date: 26-Sep-2008
From: Elyse Turr <elyse.turroup.com>
Subject: On the Dot: Humez, Humez
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Title: On the Dot
Subtitle: The Speck that Changed the World
Published: 2008
Publisher: Oxford University Press

Author: Alexander Humez
Author: Nicholas Humez
Hardback: ISBN: 9780195324990 Pages: 272 Price: U.S. $ 24.95

Despite the humble origins of its name (Anglo Saxon for "the speck at the
head of a boil"), the dot has been one of the most versatile players in the
history of written communication, to the point that it has become virtually
indispensable. Now, in 'On the Dot', Alexander and Nicholas Humez offer a
wide ranging, entertaining account of this much overlooked and miniscule
linguistic sign.

The Humez brothers shed light on the dot in all its various forms. As a
mark of punctuation, they show, it plays many roles--as sentence stopper, a
constituent of the colon (a clause stopper), and the ellipsis (dot dot
dot). In musical notation, it denotes "and a half." In computerese, it has
several different functions (as in dot com, the marker between a file name
and its extension, and in some slightly more arcane uses in programming
languages). The dot also plays a number of roles in mathematics, including
the notation of world currency (such as dollars dot cents), in Morse code
(dots and dashes), and in the raised dots of Braille. And as the authors
connect all these dots, they take readers on an engaging tour of the
highways and byways of language, ranging from the history of the question mark
and its lesser known offshoots the "point d'ironie" and the interrobang, to
acronyms and backronyms, power point bullets and asterisks, emoticons and
the "at-sign."

Playful, wide-ranging, and delightfully informative, "On the Dot" reveals
how thoroughly the dot is embedded in our everyday world of words and
ideas, acquiring a power inversely proportional to its diminutive size.

Linguistic Field(s): Writing Systems

Written In: English (eng )

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