LINGUIST List 11.1740

Mon Aug 14 2000

Sum: The "" Sign

Editor for this issue: Lydia Grebenyova <>


  • karchung, The "" Sign

    Message 1: The "" Sign

    Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2000 05:12:30 +0800
    From: karchung <>
    Subject: The "" Sign

    For Query: Linguist 11.1734

    Finally, the summary! So sorry it's taken so long, but I hope you will find it worth the wait. I sure had fun with this. The creativity that blossomed (one Turkish source calls a 'rose') from one little is breathtaking. Data came in for the following 37 languages: Afrikaans, Arabic, Cantonese, Catalan, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Farsi, Finnish, French, Frisian, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Lithuanian, Mandarin Chinese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Tamil, Thai, and Turkish. There is an expectedly heavy bias in this mix toward languages of Europe (26 of the 37 languages) and other more technologically advanced regions. The response from the Netherlands was positively overwhelming! In one case, Tamil, the question definitely seemed to influence the data - members of the Tamil list are *still* talking about the best term to use for ! A broad spectrum of metaphors, some very concrete and others relatively abstract, is used to describe , ranging from animals and body parts (e.g. Chinese 'little mouse', Danish 'elephant's trunk', Dutch 'monkey's tail', French, Hebrew, Italian, Korean 'snail', Hungarian 'worm/maggot', Russian 'little dog', Swedish 'cat's foot', Arabic, German, Turkish, 'ear') to food (e.g. Hebrew 'strudel', Swedish 'cinnamon bun', Czech/Slovak 'collared herring/rollmop') to letters of an alphabet (e.g. Norwegian 'curled alpha', Tamil _du_; and the more abstract French, Italian, Russian 'commercial "a"', Serbian 'crazy "a"'); some are direct borrowings (e.g. Icelandic, Cantonese) or translations (e.g. Romanian, Greek) of the English 'at'; and there are a few variants of the Spanish weight measure _arroba_, (e.g. Catalan _arrova_/_rova_, French _arobase_). There are interesting patterns of influence, sometimes within a language family or subfamily, sometimes within a geographical area, and sometimes from dominant cultures (the English 'at' turns up in several disparate languages). Much more could be said, but I will let those interested figure it out for themselves from the data!

    Karen Steffen Chung National Taiwan University

    Many, many thanks to the 105 (!) individuals who contributed to this project: - -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz <> Amira Agameya <> Lotfi Ben Ahmed <> Maria Cristina F S Altman <> Pascale Amozig <> Gisle Andersen <> Malte Andreasson <> Cheryl AndristPlourde <> Tareef Attar <> Cyril Belica <> Unni Berland <> Jose Eugenio Borao <> Piero Bottari <> Paula Bouffard <> E. Wayles Browne <> HUseyin Canbolat <> Lisa J. Conathan <> Louise Cornelis <> Peter De Bie <> Bart Diels <> Jean-Louis Duchet <> Alex Eulenberg <> James L. Fidelholtz <> Frederik Fouvry <> Karthi Gesu <> Sean Golden <> Sandra Golstein <> Anthony Green <> Hartmut Haberland <> Soren Harder <> Pierre Igot <> Leonid Iomdin <> Hegedu:s Ire'n <> Przemyslaw Jablonski <> Peter Jaumann <> Herman Kappen <> Birgit Kellner <> Alexander King <> Petur Knutsson <> Olaf N. Koeneman <> Koh <> Jacek Koronacki <> Jacek Kostyrko <> Ernst F. Kotze <> Mette Kreutzmann <> Esther Kuntjara <> Johanna Laakso <> Lucie Langlois <> Peter A. Lazar <> Chungmin Lee <> Lee-yong Tan <> Judith Levi <> Jan Lindstrom <> Angelika Mayer Loo <> Lu Bingfu <> Eva Madry <> Ruta Marcinkeviciene <> Anna Matamala Ripoll <> Steve Matthews <> Michalis Milapides <> Igor Milosavlevich <> Ali Mohammadi <> Virginia Motapanyane <> Folke A. Nettelblad <> Markus Nussbaumer <> Jan Odijk <> Erik Oltmans <> Tassos Panopoulos <> Jaan Penjam <> Christian Heyde Petersen <> Homme Piest <> Wilfried Pieters <> Amara Prasithrathsint <> Ole Ravnholt <> Alexandr Rosen <> Dina Rosenfeld <> Rosental Mikhal <> Anne Ruh <> Deborah D. Kela Ruuskanen <> Lisa Seitz <> Danko Sipka <> Nigel Smith <> Eva Stro"m <> Peter Szigetvari <> As Halil Teletas <> Bruno Tersago <> Theriault Alain <> Craig Thiersch <> Serge Thion <> Yishai Tobin <> Carolina Turrini <> Vassilis Vagios <> 0ystein Alexander Vangsnes <> Theo Vennemann <> John Verhaar <> Maurice Vliegen <vliegenmedetaalk> Peansiri Vongvipanond <> Gerry Wanders <> Soeren Wichmann <> Jeroen Wiedenhof <> Shuly Wintner <>, <shulytechunix.bitnet> Henk Wolf <> Adam Zachary Wyner <> Eric Zee <> Paul Kingsbury <>


    ** In Afrikaans, some e-mailers have started using the term "aapstert" (= monkey's tail), which is also a term used jokingly to address children who have done something stupid.

    Ernst F. Kotze <>


    ** I do not know what the is called in Arabic, but I call it informally "othon", which means ear or formally "3alamat 3Inda".

    Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz <>

    ** From Egypt: I have asked a few people, mainly typists, what the sign is called in Arabic, and to my surprise I found out that it does not exist on manual Arabic keyboards. It is only found on dual--English and Arabic-- keyboards of electronic and word processor keyboards. Most of the people I asked did not even notice it was on the keyboard, and therefore did not have a name for it. Only two people had a name for it. The first used the English translation of 'at' and called it 'fi'. The second called it 'a', thinking that it is some kind of sign referring to the letter 'a'.

    Amira Agameya <>

    ** From the United Arab Emirates: Email has been around for two years in the institution where I work. We often use the word "at" for the symbol because our e-mail addresses are all in English codes.

    Lotfi Ben Ahmed <>

    ** I think it's called 'at', just like in English.

    Tareef Attar <>


    ** Thanks for your query on the local pronunciation of "". As you may have found out by now, the answer is not terribly interesting but typically Hong Kong: they pronounce it "at". I'll let you know if I find any alternatives.

    Steve Matthews <>

    ** Interestingly we have not yet come up with a term in Cantonese for "". We refer to it as the way it is pronounced in English as many loan words in Cantonese. This goes for a computer mouse too - a vernacular Cantonese equivalent[lou Sy] has never been used. It is simply referred to as [mao Si]. This I think has to do with the speech habits of the HK speakers who are accustomed to code mixing. I may want to suggest to the Linguistic Society of Hong Kong to refer to "" as [lou Sy fu hou] parallelling the way you call it in Taiwan.

    Eric Zee <>

    ** I got your email inquiry regarding what the symbol "" was called in Cantonese. I will be happy to help you out, but to be honest, I am not a native speaker of Cantonese, either, although I do speak the dialect fairly well. Lao3 Shu3 Hao4 in Cantonese would be /lou//hsu//ngan/.

    Lee-yong Tan <>


    ** In Catalan there is a little bit of confusion about this term. Most people call it "arrova" or "rova" (the two "a" are pronounced like cupbOArd or mothEr; the "rr" is rolled; and the "v" is pronounced like a soft English "b") because this symbol corresponds to a unit of measure. Maybe it is because ot the influence of Spanish. I actually work in a newspaper and we use the term "arrova". However, I was quite surprised to know that the linguists of one of the main Catalan radio stations suggest speakers should say "at".

    Anna Matamala Ripoll <>


    ** In Slovak, the '' sign is called _zavinac_, 'rollmops'. (The second _a_ has a grave accent. The _c_ has a hacek accent.) I first heard this usage some 15 years ago. Since I am not familiar with any standard pronunciation transcription scheme, I'll give you an English approximation: z as z in zoom a as o in mother v as v in view i as i in hit n as n in net a+grave as a in past c+hacek as ch in check The initial '_za_' is stressed.

    Cyril Belica <>

    ** In Czech, the sign is colloquially called zavin\'a\v{c} (LaTeX diacritics), according to my Czech-English dictionary `collared herring', `rollmop'. The spelling is more or less phonetic, with the accented "a" long, the "c" with caron as "ch" in "chocolate" and the stress on the first syllable.

    From a second communication: The Czech colloquial term for `commercial at' (the official term is just a calque of the English one) is spelled "zavinac", with an acute accent (') on the second "a" and a hacek (a little "v") on the top of "c".

    Alexandr Rosen <>


    ** In Danish, 'grisehale' 'pig's tail' is occasionally heard, but the received reading is 'snabel-a', i.e. 'trunk a', that is 'an a with an elephant's trunk attached'. That's a nice one, isn't it? I have also heard the expression 'master space' which seems to go back to some arcane terminology of some operating system for some vintage IBM mainframe computer.

    Hartmut Haberland <>

    ** In Danish the -character is called: 'snabel-a'; "(elephants) trunk-a".

    Soren Harder <>

    ** In Danish, the is called and spelled: "snabel a". A "snabel" means the trunk of an elephant, and the "a" is just the letter a. I'm not sure how to explain the pronunciation, but it is close to English except for the "a" which is both shorter and flatter and it doesn't have the diphthong sound /ai/. I have probably known the term for about 10-12 years. (I am Danish though currently studying in Germany.)

    Mette Kreutzmann <>

    ** As far as I know there are two ways of referring to in Danish; it's either called _alfa(-tegn)_ which is _alpha(-sign)_ in English, or _snabel_ which is proboscis/elephant's trunk in English. I think they are used in 'two different areas': I say alfa-tegn to people who (I think) are new to e-mailing, but _snabel_ to everybody else.

    Christian Heyde Petersen <>

    ** In Danish is called "snabel-a", which translates as "trunk-a", an elephant's trunk i.e., not the trunk of a tree.

    Ole Ravnholt <>

    ** The sign is called _snabel-a_ `trunk a' in Danish. The designation refers to the likeness of a elephant's trunk combined with the letter a. Elephants and mice usually don't get mixed up cross-linguistically, so this case perhaps calls for a paper countering some version of universal grammar?

    Soeren Wichmann <>


    ** In Dutch, we call `at' (as in English), but also `apestaartje' `monkey-tail-DIMINUTIVE' (the diminutive is very productive in Dutch, but it is optional, so `apestaart' works as well). ...

    Louise Cornelis <>

    ** In Dutch it is sometimes referred to as "apestaart", which means "tail of a monkey". I have no idea how frequently this term is used.

    Peter De Bie <>

    ** In Dutch, the -symbol is usually referred to as "apestaart" (lit. "monkey's tail": "ap" (with a long /a/; from: "aap") meaning "monkey", "staart" meaning "tail", and "e" (a shwa) being a linking morpheme. I am not sure about the etymology of this word, but I think the fact that the letter "a" can be recognized in the sign plays a role in the word's origin: something like "a met staart" ("a with tail") could have devellopped to "apestaart", which is phonologically close tot it. I do not know of other ways in Dutch tot refer to this symbol: as far as I know, "apestaart" is by far the most common name for it, if not the only one. I think I first heard it being used some eight years ago.

    Bart Diels <>

    ** A nice name for in Dutch is "apestaart" (or the diminutive "apestaartje"), meaning `monkey tail'. It is especially nice that the name starts with an "a", and looks very much like a monkey tail: it makes it very mnemonic. Another is "a-krol" or "a-krul", meaning `a-(with-a-)curl'. ("a" and "aa" are pronounced in both cases like "aa" in the German "Saar" or "Staat". The "e" is pronounced as a schwa, and the stress in the first word is on the first syllable. The stress in the second name is on the second syllable (a rather unusually stressed word). krul is pronounced /kryl/.)

    Frederik Fouvry <>

    ** The Dutch have an original and funny name for the ""sign: it is referred to as "apestaartje", which means "a monkey's tail". The reason is obviously to be found in the form of the symbol, and perhaps also because "apestaartje" also starts with the letter "A". As far as I know, the Dutch term has existed for quite a long time, possibly since the symbol appeared on the computer keyboard.

    Herman Kappen <>

    ** In Dutch the at-symbol is usually referred to as "apestaart", meaning `monkey's tail'.

    Olaf N. Koeneman <>

    ** In Dutch `' is called `apestaart', i.e. `monkey's tail'

    Jan Odijk <>

    ** In Dutch, "" is often called "apestaartje", i.e. "little tail of a monkey".

    Erik Oltmans <>

    ** In Dutch it is called "apestaart" ("monkey's tail") or (diminutive) "apestaartje" ("[little[monkey's tail]]". The first form mostly is used bare, like when telling somebody your email address: "My address is piest "apestaart"". The second form is used on other occasions; because it's a diminutive it's more fitting than "apestaart" there (pointing at the sign and saying it's an "apestaart" would more or less imply it's bigger than usual). Pronuncation: something like "ApstArt", "ApstArtj" (A = long a, = schwa). N.B. I'm not sure whether this names will be used in the future or not: the Dutch generally don't seem to mind lending some words from English, and since more and more people are getting acquainted with the Internet over here the symbol is more and more frequently just called "at", like in English including English pronuncation <et>). But I'm quite sure no one would have called it that as far back as 1989: I remember having had a discussion about it with some friends, and no one of us seemed able to come up with the official term (whatever it was), we all called it "apestaartje". Primary stress falls on the first A: "A'pestaart", "A'pestaartje", secondary stress on -staar-. Syllables with schwa's are never stressed in Dutch. First time I heard someone calling it "at" must have been about 3 or 4 months ago.

    Homme Piest <>

    ** We call it usually APESTAART (AAP "monkey" + STAART "tail" -> "monkey's tail"). That's the word I always hear in the Dutch speaking part of Belgium. In the Netherlands it's the same word I think, eventually in the diminutive form (APESTAARTJE). In a recent publication about Internet (380 Internet tips & trucs, by HenkEllermann, Amsterdam 1995) I found on page 141 following explanation: the original name was EEN A MET EEN SLINGER ("an a with a swinging" -), but soon it became popularly called APESTAARTJE or SLINGERAAP (literally "swinging monkey", which is the Dutch equivalent for "spider monkey"). But I must tell you that I never heard personally that last word (slingeraap): maybe it's used only in the Netherlands.

    Wilfried Pieters <>

    ** I think the -sign is sometimes call a-scroll in English as well. Anyway: I speak Dutch and we sometimes call it "apestaart" or the diminutive "apestaartje" which means "monkey's tail". A fine metaphor, I should say ;-)

    Bruno Tersago <>

    ** Dutch = apestaart (`monkeytail' from aap=monkey, staart=tail).

    Craig Thiersch <>

    ** In Dutch I have heard it called _apenstaart_ 'monkey's tail'.

    John Verhaar <>

    ** In Dutch the symbol is called ape_staart 'monkey tail'.

    Gerry Wanders <>

    ** The sign in Dutch is called: 'apestaart' (monkey's tail).

    Maurice Vliegen <vliegenmedetaalk>

    ** In Dutch the most common form seems to be _apestaartje_, literally 'little monkey tail' (from _aap_ 'monkey'; _-e-_ attributive; _staart_ 'tail'; _-je_ diminutive); Pronunciation: [``apst`aRC], with [``] = main stress; [] = schwa; [`] = secondary stress [R] = dorsovelar aproximant (in formal speech, this may become a dorsovelar trill or an apico-alveolar trill; in informal speech, the consonant disappears and the preceding [a] is lengthened); [C] = palato-alveolar affricate; the other symbols according to IPA. There is also the more facetious _apeklootje_, literally 'little monkey testicle' (cf. vulgar _kloot_ 'testicle'). The pronunciation is [``apkl`oC]. I heard the latter term just once or twice, maybe three years ago.It does not seem to be very common,but it may have been more succesful in restricted groups (hackers? computer whizkids? male speakers talking among themselves?). The expression is not really coarse, just slightly naughty. The use of diminutive forms for diacritic signs is widespread in Dutch. Compare _hekje_ 'little fence' for the # sign (from _hek_'fence') and _haakjes_ 'little hooks' for the ( and ) signs (from _haak_ 'hook').

    Jeroen Wiedenhof <>

    ** In Dutch it's most often called _apestaartje_ (monkey's tail). I have also heard _slinger-a'tje_ (little swing a).

    Henk Wolf <>


    ** I learned in my first office job as a high school student in Chicago, Illinois in 1962 or 63. It was just called the at sign, and there was no more whimsy or curiosity about it than there was about $, or =A2, or %.

    Michal Brody <>

    ** I have been told that is called "commercial 'A'" in English.

    Sean Golden <>

    ** Another interesting bit that I just read today (now that's real _usage_: In regards 2 boots, there R a couple of places here in Austin where U can get just any boot CD on the man. I haven't been able to buy much because they're expensive but U might B able 2 call them directly & place UR order over the phone or via mail. If any1 is interested e-mail me back and I'll get the info. 4 U. Also I would like 2 get the MPLS news coverage of any1 who recorded the BIG event. Please e-mail me back and let me know. I can send you'll a video tape. Thanks & Peace and B Wild Nidia Note the "" in the second line that stands for "about" ! Guess this thing is continually evolving! :-)

    Pierre Igot <>

    ** I don't know how relevant this is to your inquiry, but I have seen the sign also referred to in English as a 'snail.' This is the usage on the newsgroup, which seems to be dominated by Australians.

    Paul Kingsbury <>

    ** In English I don't even say the word "sign", just "my address is druuskan at cc dot helsinki dot fi (each letter separately except for helsinki and fi, pronnounced fee).

    Deborah D. Kela Ruuskanen <>


    ** In Estonian is officially called: kommertsma"rk. a" is Estonian umlaut a (like in German, but is pronounced rather than German e). This is the word officially fixed by standard and can be translated as 'commercial sign'. There are some other slang words used as well, for instance 'komerts-a"tt'.

    Jaan Penjam <>

    FARSI ** It is a pleasure to answer your question but I am afraid to let you know that there is no word in Farsi for sign. I consulted some of my collegues at our computer center but not a single person knew of any word for the sign in question; We simply pronounce it like 'at sign'.

    Ali Mohammadi <>


    ** As for Finnish: The first time I ever heard about the sign was in the early 1980's, when an acquaintance of mine used it (in an ordinary IBM typewriter - we didn't have any computers yet in our department) in some special use (I have forgotten what it was): she taught me to call it "kissanh=E4nt=E4" (kissa 'cat' + -n [GEN] + h=E4nt=E4 'tail'). Later on, I have heard other names for it in Finnish, also connected with "cats": "miau", "miumau" or "miuku" (all onomatopoetic: "meow"; the last one could be analyzed as containing a "nominifying" (quasi-)suffix -ku). The first one , I think, even appeared in a kind of a computer manual (unfortunately, I have forgotten where). (I have also met computer people who insist on using the English word "at".)

    Johanna Laakso <>

    ** Finnish and Swedish are influenced by each other in bilingual regions such as Helsinki, so it is no wonder that the [Swedish] cat-metaphor also exists in Finnish appellations, like "kissanhanta" (the last two a's with umlaut, pronounced like the vowel in the auxiliary "have", "hanta" meaning 'tail'), i.e. 'a cat's tail). Other animal refences are recorded as well: "apinanhanta" (see pron. etc under SWEDISH), i.e. 'a monkey's tail', or "hiirenhanta" (ibid.), i.e. 'a mouse's tail'. As some languages make poetry out of the sign, Finnish makes onomatopoeia out of it! With a reference to the cat, -sign may be called "miau" (i.e. 'miaow') or "miukumauku" (appr. the as the former), that is, an imitation of a cat's meowing.

    >From a second communication: About the Finnish "miukumauku": perhaps it is more appropriate to see this as a development from the origininal onomatopoeic expression "miau". The rest part ("-mauku") resembles the verb for 'meowing', i.e. "naukua". The whole expression feels like a noun, I think in baby talk a cat might be called "miukumauku" in a manner rather similar to the English "bow-wow" for 'dog'. But in both cases, the origins lie in onomatopoeia.

    Jan Lindstrom <>

    ** In Finnish, the sign is called the "miau merkki" (meow merk-key), from the supposed resemblance to a cat with its tail curled round it - also I think the alliteration of the "m" contributes. The word for mouse in Finnish is hiiri, but mouse means mouse i.e. the cursor control, and is so attached as signifier/signified that mouse cannot be used for anything else. Another fun thing in internet/computer language is what does the mouse "say" - there was a big debate in Poland recently when the computer manuals had to be translated from English: many translators in Poland refused to have a "mouse" that "said" CLICK! Everyone knows mice SQUEAK, after all. Anyway, we have a meow mark or meow sign for "at" in Finnish. My keyboard won't make it, BTW, when using the email software editor. I have to copy and paste it from somewhere else. Please post a summary. This is fun: the metaphors being used are really interesting. I wonder how many computer nerds in Finland have cats as pets as opposed to dogs....

    Deborah D. Kela Ruuskanen <>

    ** It's called "kissanh=E4nt=E4" in Finnish. I'm not sure if you are getting my Scandinavian letters so let point out that there should be two little dots above the last two "a"-letters in the word "kissanhnt". The meaning of the word is "cat tail".

    Miika Vanhapiha <>


    ** As far as I know, in French, the sign is called "arobase" (say "arobass") and sometimes "escargot" (say "escargo"), which means "snail".

    Pascale Amozig <>

    ** In French we call the "a commercial" (commercial a).

    Paula Bouffard <>

    ** In French it is referred to as 'arobase'. I have heard it referred to as such by programmers and computers specialists for the past five years at least. In English I have always heard it referred to as 'arobase' (pronounced as if "air o' base"), and some computer firm has used this word for some software or for the name of the firm, I don't remember exactly, although I have seen it spelt arobace in that context. The Oxford English Dictionary has the spanish arroba in its meaning of the measurement unit for 25 lb. ...

    >From a second message: ['Arobase'] does not mean anything, in the sense that it is not derived from anything else by metaphor. It is obviously derived from the Spanish word, but it is difficult to know why it has a consonant added (might be derived from the plural of the Spanish word) and although I have heard it used orally it is not in dictionaries, not even in big ones.

    Jean-Louis Duchet <>

    ** My first language is French and some people call it: <a commercial> ("commercial a") even though I have no idea where this comes from. I heard this for the first time long ago when PCs were first introduced (early 80's, I guess), where it was already used for electronic purposes (even though I can't exactly remember which). It is never used in French as it is used by grocers in the English-speaking world (meaning "at"). The first time I ever saw this sign was on a computer keyboard.

    From a second message: Since you're still working on your summary, I thought I would mention that I just found out about two more metaphors for the "" symbol in French: = "a escargot" ("snail a") and = "a enroule'" ("coiled a"). Apparently, the "a escargot" one is even mentioned in a French-English dictionary somewhere. This comes from the "france-langue" mailing list, which is currently discussing this issue (among many others).

    Pierre Igot <>

    ** We [French speakers] call it the "a commercial" (which means the "business a"). I believe that word's been around for quite some time, although I would be hard pressed to tell you when I personally heard it first.

    Lucie Langlois <>

    ** Apparently it is called 'petit escargot' (little snail) in French. Although I know French, I didn't know this until I read it in a British computer magazine, _PC Pro_. I have not yet checked its accuracy with native speakers!

    Nigel Smith <>

    ** In French, it is called un "A commercial" or a commercial "a".

    Theriault Alain <>

    ** In French, I learned three or four years ago that is an "arobase", although I believe most people do not know the word (not the sign). No known meaning or relative. I have heard people calling it a snail (escargot).

    Serge Thion <>


    ** In Frisian it's usually _apesturtsje_ (monkey's tail). I've also heard _aapke_ (little monkey).

    Henk Wolf <>


    ** Re in German: _Klammeraffe_, 'spider monkey' (literally, 'clinging monkey'); and _Ohr_, 'ear'.

    Angelika Loo <>, Peter Jaumann <>

    ** ... a correction: although it is true that German 'Klammer' means 'bracket' (it also can mean 'peg'), 'Klammeraffe' is rather derived from the verb '[sich] klammern', 'to cling', and means a 'clinging monkey' or rather 'sapajou' as the dictionary tells me. (The idea is of course that the monkey uses its curly tail to hang down from trees or the like.)

    Hartmut Haberland <>

    ** In your recent posting to LINGUIST, you translated the German expression for "", "Klammeraffe", as "bracket-monkey". My modest native-speaker language-competence, supported by Langenscheidt's German-English-dictionary, however, would understand "Klammeraffe" rather as a monkey who likes to cling ("klammern" as a verb, as opposed to "Klammer" as "brackets"). Langenscheidt gives "spider-monkey" as an equivalent, and also quotes the idiom "Er ist ein Klammeraffe" ("He is like a leech"). A "Klammeraffe", thus, is simply somebody (or something) which tends to stick to other people (or things), and the expression has decidedly negative connotations. Don'task me why "" was termed this way.

    Birgit Kellner <>

    ** Ich sage fuer meistens "Affenschwanz", und mit mir sagen das hier in Zuerich noch einige andere. Ich habe aber keine Ahnung, woher das kommt, ausser dass es mir von der Form her einleuchtet. Moeglicherweise eine Weiterentwicklung des "Klammeraffen". (Translation: I say mostly "Affenschwanz" ('monkey's tail') for , and some others here in Zurich use this term, too. I have no idea, however, where it comes from, though it might be because of the shape of the character. It could possibly be a further development of 'Klammerfaffe'. - KSC)

    Markus Nussbaumer <>

    ** I think that the term "Klammeraffe" is even more poetical than you thought, getting quite near the Chinese option. "Affe", of course, means "monkey", but "klammern", a verb, means "to hold fast" ("Klammer" as a noun does mean "bracket", but I think not in this context). Now there is a special kind of monkey which moves from tree to tree using its tail to get hold on the branches (according to the dictionary, in English this monkey is called "red-faced spider monkey", which isn't much helpful here). The sign *does* look like a monkey's tail, doesn't it?

    Lisa Seitz <>

    ** German Klammer means bracket all right, but in the compound Klammeraffe (Affe means monkey and is etymologically the same as English ape - a word of unknown origin, by the way), klammer- is verbal and means to cling on to, clutch to. Perhaps clingmonkey or clutchmonkey would be a snappy translation.

    From a second communication: A while ago I sent you remarks on German Klammeraffe. I think I then merely wrote that the literal translation into English would be something like cling-monkey or clasp-monkey, considering the meaning of the German verb klammern. What I did not mention was that Klammeraffe is also a zoological technical term, designating a branch of the New World capuchin monkeys, to wit the spider monkeys or ateles.

    Theo Vennemann <>


    ** In reply to your question please note that we, Greeks, use the same symbol in our e-mail communications because we have to due to the fact that it has become a convention (see Language and Cultural Imperialism). However, when translated we use the expression "sto" which means "at".

    From a second communication: We use "at" for the symbol . But if we need to translate that symbol we will say "sto" if the name of the network is neuter*, "sto(n) if the name is masculine, and "sti(n)" if feminine. In Greek articles show gender. Please, note that n is in parenthesis because its realization depends on the sound that follows.

    (*Note from Vassilis Vagios, professor of Classical Greek at NTU <>: E-mail sservers in Greece have names like "Ariadne", which is of course feminine.)

    Michalis Milapides <>

    ** In Greek - so far as I know - there is no specific word for this sign. Usually, we use the phrase "the sign".

    Tassos Panopoulos <>


    ** In Hebrew, we use "shablul" (pronounce "shablool"), meaning "snail", or "Strudel", from the famous roll-shaped small sweet buns. These two terms are very current and I heard them since I started speaking Hebrew, 4 years ago.

    Pascale Amozig <>

    Forwarded by Judith Levi: I have a heard people using the word shtrudel for but, as a quite involved email and cyberspace user, I cannot say it became a generic term. Most people say "at" in English, others say "you know what" and still others "chupchik" which is in Yiddish for "peak" or something like that. ronen

    Cheryl AndristPlourde <>

    ** In Hebrew, is called "snail" (shablul).

    Sandra Golstein <>

    ** By chance, I stumbled on this issue when speaking in Hebrew with an Israeli cousin who was just learning to do e-mail.I learned that *she* had learned to call it "strudel" (pronounced a la Viennese, i.e., shtrudel [roughly]). (There are, of course, many Israelis whose parents come from Europe, and so the actual pastry called "shtrudel" is common in Israel.) ...

    Judith Levi <>

    ** In Israel we call it 'strudel' because it reminds us of rolled up cake.

    Dina Rosenfeld <>

    ** In Hebrew we call it Shtrudl, which is the German name of a cake made from thin dough wrapped around some kind of filling. The word has been in use by computer programers for years.

    Rosental Mikhal <>

    ** In colloquial Israeli Hebrew when we give our e-mail addresses we often refer to as a strudel (from the German or Austrian pastry I think because of its shape) pronounced: SHtrudel.

    Yishai Tobin <>

    ** This is certainly not the dictionary definition, but computer scientists in Israel usually use the term [shtrudl] for the '' sign. I, for one, have heard this term at least 10 years ago, and I assume it was common in the internet users community long before I first heard it. [shtrudl] is the Hebrew pronunciation of the German 'Strudel' (sp?), which is a pastry consisting of rolled dough filled with (usually) apples. The pastry is popular in Israel, in its German name, and I guess the rolled dough reminds one of the ''.

    Shuly Wintner shulytechunix.bitnet

    ** In Israel, is called "Strudel". As a non-Israeli, non-Hebrew speaker, I only understood this on an occassion when sitting with a friend over coffee and strudel, we exchanged e-mail addresses in Hebrew.

    Adam Zachary Wyner <>


    ** Hungarian calls the sign "kukac" (= worm/maggot).

    "Hegedu:s Ire'n" <>

    ** A Hungarian teacher of our department called it "kukac" ('worm').

    Johanna Laakso <>

    **...[In Hungarian] is kukac ("coo-cots") is 'worm' (the type you expect to find in an apple). Nobody including grocers and typists had ever heard about the darned thing before computers came in -- not only has Hungarian never used it but also, no typewriter has ever had a kukac (the old machines were based on German models rather). From a second message: A colleague here says 'maggot' is the word for the thing. And he's English, which I'm not...

    Peter A Lazar <> in reality: Lazar A. Peter, in that order

    ** The sign is usually referred to as _kukac_ [kukats] `worm' in Hungarian. (The [a] is low, back, rounded, very similar to RP's _hot_ sound.)

    Peter Szigetvari <>


    ** As far as I know we haven't a name yet - we just say "att" (pronounced [aht])

    Petur Knutsson <>


    ** [Re :] People just pronounce it as : [ /\ ] like the /u/ in the word 'but'.

    Esther Kuntjara <>


    ** In Italian the word for I've often heard (I use it myself) is "chiocciola" pronounced /kjotSola/ where /tS/ stands for a voiceles palatal affricate (the first consonant of the English word 'church'). The literal meanin is 'snail; in particular, in Italian there are two words for 'snail', 'chiocciola' and 'lumaca', the former especially referring to the shell: the visual relationship with , then, is straigtforward.

    Piero Bottari <>

    ** In Italian we call it a "chiocciola" which is the Italian for a snail, which is one of the prettiest images I've heard. (Notice how the shell spirals round to protect the flesh!).

    From a second communication: To complete what I wrote before about Italian, we also call it the "A commerciale" similar to French. By the way, if you're not familiar with Italian, chiocciola is pronounced something like "ki-'o-cho-la" with second-syllable stress and short O sounds.

    Anthony Green <>

    ** [In Italian the term for ] is 'chiocciola'.

    Carolina Turrini <>


    ** Indeed, it's been bothering us laymen, who are not familiar with jargons in accounting or computer. A lot of Japanese do not know what to call the symbol. I used to say something like "the a with a circle around it" in Japanese until I started e-mail two years ago. Now I say "atto maak (='at' mark), the a with a circle around it, you know, it's called atto maaku." I hear that people in accounting normally call it "atto maaku". Computer people call it "atto maaku", too. Japanese has a set of letters called katakana to be used for loan words, and foreign words are used quite commonly with Japanized pronunciation.

    Masayoshi Hirose <>


    ** Well, I heard many of my Korean folks call it 'dalphaengi' (snail in Korean). yes, it looks like a snail. But isn't it funny and ironical, since snail mail is opposed to e-mail in english?

    From a second communication: The whole thing is a one morpheme word meaning 'snail'. Its syllable division is dal-phaeng-i.

    Chungmin Lee <>


    ** This sign has "official" or teminological name in Lithuanian - comercial et, but people simply call ir an email sign. Some, having mixed it up with the English abbreviation for the word "and" translate it into Lithuanian equivalent"ir".

    Ruta Marcinkeviciene <>


    ** In Taiwan Mandarin Chinese, is called _xiao3 lao3shu3_ 'little mouse' or _lao3shu3 hao4_ 'mouse sign'.

    Karen Steffen Chung <>

    ** I call 'at-hao4' ['"at" sign'] or 'lao3shu3-hao4' ['"mouse" sign'].

    Lu Bingfu <>

    ** From Guangzhou: Your question was a puzzler and an eye-opener, as none of the locals I asked (even the hard core internet ones) ever called it anything - and in no way did "litttle mouse"et al ring abell with them. They don't even call it "at". They were as puzzled as I as they had never given it any thought. One said I guess I call it the "thing over the two". That's as close as we all got.

    Anne Ruh <>


    ** In my native language, Norwegian, the sign is often called 'grisehale' (gris=pig, hale=tail, ie 'pig's tail'). In academic circles, however, the English term 'at' is widely used.

    Gisle Andersen <>

    ** In Norwegian, the is called a "kro/ll-alfa", meaning "curl alpha". I don't know when I first heard it, it is quite recent though, I think, and very descriptive.

    Unni Berland <>

    ** Norwegian: 'grisehale' - "pigtail" (i.e. _gris_ + _hale_) or 'kro/llalfa' - "curly alpha" (the letter o/ should be an "o with a slash" (as in my surname), and corresponds in pronounciation to German o"("Umlaut o"). Both terms are quite common.

    0ystein Alexander Vangsnes <>


    ** (Translation of a note from Jacek Koronacki <koronaIPIPAN.Waw.PL>) "In Poland most of the people (scientists) using the Internet call the "" sign malpa "monkey". I have no idea why. However some of the people I spoke to swore that the term ac'ka (acute accent over the c) is familiar, others that it is ucho s'wini "pig's ear". I have heard both these terms for the first time [now]. Summing up, in Poland the term is not fixed."

    From another message: Kolezanka z Warszawy mowi na to "malpa". (A Warsaw friend calls it "monkey.")

    Robert A. Rothstein <>

    And another: Ja od wielu lat nazywam ten znak kotkiem. Ze wzgledu na dlugi, podwiniety ogon. Zaslyszalem to okreslenie od kolegi ok 10 lat temu. (Mam cztery koty, w tym jeden Manx, czyli bezogoniasty...)

    "For many years I have called that sign _kotek_ 'little cat'. With respect to its long, curled tail. I heard this term from a colleague about 10 years ago. (I have four cats, including one Manx, i.e. tailless...)"

    Jacek Kostyrko <>

    And yet another: >W Krakowie moi koledzy na znak mowia - po angielsku 'at' "In Krakow my colleagues/friends call in English, 'at'."

    Przemyslaw Jablonski <>

    The above contributions were all forwarded and translated by: E. Wayles Browne <>

    ** In Polish they call : 1.malpa - (with / crossing l letter) - monkey 2.ogon - tail

    Eva Madry <>


    ** In Portuguese, we call the sign __ like in Spanish: "arroba" (I didn't know it was the same term, by the way).

    Maria Cristina F S Altman <>


    ** The equivalent [of in Romanian] is 'la' which means exactly 'at' as in English.

    Virginia Motapanyane <motaadmin1.UnbSJ.CA>


    ** The Russian word that I have heard used for '' is 'sobachka,' (I can't get an IPA font to work here, but it's pronounced suh-BAHTCH-kuh) which means 'little dog' or 'doggie.' It was interesting for me to read that similar imagery seems to account for the name in Mandarin and German, naming the symbol after what it looks like (a dog, a mouse, an ear). I heard this term in St. Petersburg, Russia in September 1995. An American professor was giving her e-mail address to a Russian colleague and the Russian speaker supplied the word. Other Russians I've spoken to since then, who are living here in the U.S., hadn't heard the term 'sobachka' used to refer to this sign. I don't know whether that's because the term itself is new, or because it has only come into common usage with the availability of e-mail (which is still relatively scarce in Russia).

    Bridget Canniff <>

    ** In Russian I have heard referred to as 'sobachka' 'doggie'. Similar to the Chinese example...

    Lisa J. Conathan <>

    ** In Russian is called /sobachka/ 'doggie' < /sobaka/ 'dog' + /ka/ (dim. suffix) --Not a native Russian Speaker

    Alex Eulenberg <>

    ** Here are three variants of the thing in modern Russian: 1) obez'jana ("monkey") 2) pljushka ("kind of round bun") 3) sobaka ("dog") The pedants tend to call the thing "A kommercheskoe", the commercial A. This has been known for 5 years or so.

    Leonid Iomdin <>

    ** I was in Kamchatka, Russia last fall, and I learned that they call a "little dog" - _sobachka_, which is "dog" with a diminuative suffix. This was from a computer professional who grew up in Novosibirsk, but he told me that this was a general term current all over Russia.

    Alexander King <>


    ** Vlado Keselj communicates on my request in ST-L mailing-list: >Ja sam do sada "cuo da ljudi upotrebljavaju slede'ce izraze: majmun, >ludo a i et. (Ovaj zadnji izraz je direktno (uz na"su fonetiku) usvojen >iz engleskog.) I translate it for you: "I have heard until now that people use the following names: MAJMUN, LUDO A and ET. The last name is directly taken from English, adapted to our phonetics." My comment: MAJMUN means "monkey" (the usual Serb word for it; it's a loan word from Turkish); LUDO A means "crazy a"

    Danko Sipka <> writes: Ima jos i "majmunsko a". Ovo s majmunom, odnosno majmuncicem cuo sam I u poljskom i u njemackom. This means: it is also called "MAJMUNSKO A" ("monkey-ish a": MAJMUNSKO is the adjective derived from MAJMUN, "monkey"). This stuff with the monkey or the little monkey I heard also in Polish and German.

    And Igor Milosavlevich <> adds: >Ja sam cuo za izraze "majmun" i "majmunski rep". which means: I heard also the expressions "MAJMUN" and "MAJMUNSKI REP" (monkey tail). So there are until now following words in Serbian: majmun: 'monkey', majmunsko a: 'monkey a', majmunski rep, 'monkey tail', ludo a: 'crazy a', et: 'at'

    Forwards and translations from: Wilfried Pieters <>


    ** I asked also my wife Majda (she is Slovenian) and she told me that the word in Slovene is "AFNA". She is not computer specialist, and she heard it just some weeks ago from a Slovene friend residing Belgium, who is herself working in the field of computerization. She didn't know the etymology of the word. I suppose it's a loan from German "Affe" ("monkey"). The word AFNA exists also with another meaning in Slovene: "a girl who likes to dress herself very nicely, with make up and perfume, etc.". I think, that also in this meaning the word comes from German Affe (such girl looks like a monkey at the end, because she exagerates). I think there's no relation between the two meanings of "afna", besides their common origin. BTW, the word for "monkey" in Slovene is "opica", which is also derived from Germanic.

    Wilfried Pieters <>


    ** Re in Spanish: It's called _arroba_, a 25-pound measure of weight.

    Jose' Eugenio Borao <>

    ** [The Spanish term for , 'arroba',] comes from Arabic (like most a[l]- words in Spanish).

    James L. Fidelholtz <>


    ** In Swedish, the has been given a number of nicknames. The most wide-spread are the following: apsvans (monkey's tail), kanelbulle (cinnamon roll), snabel-A (elephant's trunk A), kringla (pretzel). "Snabel-A" is by far the most common word used.

    Malte Andreasson <>

    ** In Swedish, I have seen the word "kattfot" ("cat-foot") used in a computer manual (written at our Nordic department, for the users of the Swedish corpora in Helsinki).

    Johanna Laakso <>

    ** Here in Helsinki, Finland -- where Swedish is spoken by a minority of people -- the most usual colloquial appellation is "kattsvans", that is, 'a cat's tail'. For some strange reason, we at our department used to call the sign first "kattfot", i.e. 'a cat's paw'. But the identification with a cat seems to have been an important common motivation, as is the mouse for the Chinese -- a rather intriguing parallel! There is also another rather wide spread animal metaphor. can be heard called "elefantora" (with umlaut o, pronounced like the vowel in English "girl"), i.e. 'an elephant's ear'. I do not use this myself but I have heard it. I have a feeling that the most common colloquial name of in the Swedish spoken in Sweden is "kanelbulle", i.e. 'cinnamon bun'. This piece of pastry has a formation that looks a bit like the human ear and, thus, has a resemblance with the sign.

    Jan Lindstrom <>

    ** In Swedish the sign is most often called "snabel-A" (pronounced snah-bell-Ah), meaning "trunk-A" (that is the letter A with an elephant's trunk). Another, older denomination, mainly used among programmers is "kanelbulle" (pronounced kunn-ayl-boulle), meaning "cinnamon bun". This is due to the fact that the typical Swedish cinnamon bun has the form of a helix.

    Folke A. Nettelblad <>

    ** I can add the Swedish language to your collection:

    Snabel-a The name recommended by Svenska Spr=E5kn=E4mnden (approx. "The Swedish Language Board") for this sign in Swedish is "snabel-a". This is the most common name among users, too, but it has got strong competitors, follows below. The meaning of "snabel-a" is "trunk a", from the elephant's trunk. The picture is the letter 'a' that has got a elephant's trunk that circles around it. A bit humouristic and creative from the beginning, but has now settled in the Swedish users, becoming more and more serious. I guess I personally heard the word used 4 or 5 years ago.

    Kanelbulle A strong competitor is, or rather has been, the name 'kanelbulle', this name too is quite humoristic and creative. The meaning is 'cinnamon roll', from the most common traditional Swedish pastry, looking like a from the top. Personally I think I heard the word also 4 or 5 years ago for the first time, but only occasionally now.

    At-tecken An attempt to introduce a more strict name for the sign was 'at-tecken', simply meaning 'at sign'. I heard it the first time 2 or 3 years ago, and I still hear it occasionally.

    Eva Stro"m <>


    ** The Tamil character that most resembles is called "dugaram" and pronounced "du"("d" as in donkey and "u" as in pull). As my Anjal does not function I cannot write it for you here. Perhaps some other good soul can send you the exact form of "du". But I am only pointing out similarities, and make no claim that it is universally recognised that way among Tamil users. But for lack of other offerings, this would be my contribution.

    Karthi Gesu <> Of:

    ** Regarding the discussion on in Tamil, there are a few suggestions:

    1. Il 2. Ku 3. Du 4. KaNini suzhi (pronounce suli) 5. INai vari 6. Vattu

    1. Il is equal to "in" and "at" in Tamil. But if we use in e-mail addresses it shows some kind of misplacement in the address. 2. Ku is very suitable for use in e-mail addresses. But the ku is not a word. It is a letter only. 3. Du - Regarding this, Prof. Karthigesu has not given any further details. 4. KaNini suzhi (pronounce suli) - suzhi is a wonderful word in Tamil. In old times people used to write a letter (sounds u in Uganda) which is called Pillayar Suzhi. Pillayar is one of Hindu Gods. 5. INai vari - For Internet we coined a word recently ie. INayam which is much more meaningful than English word Internet. Its meaning not only connecting computer networks but also the mankind. Tamil word for address is Mugavari. So the first half of INayam and the other half of Mugavari forms the word InaiVari which means Internet address. It is O.K for e-mail address. But not suitable for in other usages. 6. Vattu - It means round. So now we are going to select a word from this list.

    Koh <> Of:


    ** I have to admit that as a Thai I don't know how we call the sign . I don't remember myself using any name to call it. It is rarely used in spoken language. Any way I will ask people in some other areas, like business. I will send you more information if I have some.

    Amara Prasithrathsint <>

    ** What an interesting topic to pursue. Thai does not have an official coinage for the sign yet. But there is a nickname, which "?ai tua yUkyU:" literally meaning "the wiggling worm-like character". The "?ai" is an equivalent of ?a in Chinese, which is prefixed to a person's name. "Tua" is character, body, shape. YUkyU: (unrounded back vowel) is a sound symbol for the crooked way a worm moves. Occasionally people will borrow the English name of the sign. In textbooks, the problem is eliminated with the use of the symbol itself.

    Peansiri Vongvipanond <>


    ** I don't know any widely accepted Turkish name for it. But I would like to call it 'gUl'=rose or 'at'=horse. BTW U in gUl denotes the character in Turkish alphabet which is practically same as u except two dots above it. It is same as German counterpart which may be denoted 'ue'.

    From a second communication: ...No, I haven't heard this, except the German word _ohr_, 'ear" in your message. _Kulak_ is also possible, but I like the other two more, esp. _at_, 'horse' which is same as English _at_ in spelling.

    HUseyin Canbolat <>

    ** As far as I know we call it "Kulak" which is "Ear" in English. There may be other names but I use "Kulak" in Turkish for that sign.

    From a second communication: ...Personally I heard for the first time "Gul" and "At" for add-sign, but Turkey is a big country and we are 60 million, and I am not very surprised to hear different names for it. I do find "Gul" (= Rose) meaningful but not "At" (= Horse) becasue of the shape of the sign.

    As Halil Teletas <>


    ** And some interesting information from a Web site, pointed out by Judith Levi (see HEBREW above) - check it out yourself for more neat stuff:

    [copied from on 19 Nov 1995 --]

    The Pronunciation Guide ----------------------- version 2.5

    Names derived from UNIX are marked with *, names derived from C are marked with +, names derived from (Net)Hack are marked with & and names deserving further explanation are marked with a #. The explanations will be given at the very end. ...

    AT SIGN, at, each, vortex, whirl, whirlpool, cyclone, snail, ape (tail), cat, snable-a#, trunk-a#, rose, cabbage, Mercantile symbol, strudel#, fetch#, shopkeeper&, human&, commercial-at, monkey (tail) ...

    snable-a from Danish; may translate as "trunk-a" trunk-a "trunk" = "elephant nose" strudel as in Austrian apple cake fetch from FORTH