LINGUIST List 7.1177

Tue Aug 20 1996

Sum: The sign: addendum

Editor for this issue: Ljuba Veselinova <>


  • "Karen S. Chung", The sign: addendum

    Message 1: The sign: addendum

    Date: Tue, 20 Aug 1996 08:58:58 +0800
    From: "Karen S. Chung" <>
    Subject: The sign: addendum

    Below follows a brief (whew!) addendum to the lengthy summary, with some interesting data from new languages, and corrections, clarifications or additions to data on languages originally covered. Anybody have anything else to contribute? (Still nothing on Hindi, Tagalog, Vietnamese...!)

    Karen Steffen Chung National Taiwan University

    Heartiest thanks to:

    Charles Bigelow <> Eul`alia de Bobes i Soler <> Christopher Brewster <> Michael I. Bushnell <> Ivan A Derzhanski <,> Edmund Grimley-Evans <> Koh <> (Mr.) Pentti Nikula <> Gavin O Shea <> Geir Skogseth Courtesy of: Jan-Sverre Syvertsen <>


    *** I noticed that Bulgarian wasn't on your list of languages, so here goes: The most common name of `' is _majmunsko "a"_ `monkey "a"'; the second choice is simply _majmunka_ `little monkey'.

    Ivan A Derzhanski <,>


    *** It seems I missed your question-post about the sign. I'll add some data about Catalan: in this language the sign is also called "ensaimada". This is the name of a kind of pastry which here is as popular as croissants, and which has the same spiral form than the sign.

    Laia Eul`alia de Bobes i Soler <>


    *** Everyone knows `' is pronounced `whirlpool'. Geez, haven't these guys ever used INTERCAL?

    Michael I. Bushnell <>

    *** From a handout distributed at a lecture given by Prof. Biq Yung-O at the Academia Sinica, Taipei, 8/16/96: in some systems of discourse analysis notation symbolizes 'laughter'.

    Karen Steffen Chung <>

    *** Before I got into computer thingies, I used the <> much as the use you quoted for Chicago, as 'about', but also _around_ as in 'a round <a>'. my sister who had studied bookkeeping pulled me up on it one day, but I continue to use it as such for my own private uses (that sounds dubious!).

    Gavin O Se Gavin O Shea <>


    *** Unfortunately I missed the question, otherwise I would have told you:

    I have observed a number of terms in use: "atelo" (spider monkey, genus Ateles), "heliko" (snail), "po-signo" (at-the-rate-of-sign), "volvita A" (wrapped up A). I'm recommending "volvita A" for the new edition of Plena Ilustrita Vortaro.

    Edmund Grimley-Evans <>


    *** Those people from Finland forgot a minor thing: The '' symbol has an official/standardized name in Finland. It is officially called the 'taksa' - sign which is an old Finnish word for something like 'a price'. In practice however hardly anybody knows this because the name was invented long before computers evolved.

    (Mr.) Pentti Nikula <>


    *** In 8 years of using email in Greece I have always heard the sign referred to as 'to pap'aki' the+NEUT+SING duck+DIMIN - I would be surprised if this were only a regional use.

    Christopher Brewster <>


    *** I was delighted by your compilation of s on the Linguist list, and would like to add the following note about the origin and original Latin name for the sign. Palaeographically, the sign is a medieval or renaissance ligature-contraction of the Latin word "ad", meaning 'to, toward, at' and so on. The ascending stroke of the 'd', which in some cursive scripts is curved to the left, has been extended and curled anti-clockwise around the 'a', while the bowl of the 'd' has been assimilated to the bowl of the 'a' (cf. Berthold Louis Ullman, *Ancient Writing and its Influence*). Though its original Latin sense had perhaps been forgotten, the "" sign survived as a logograph meaning "at" in the commercial cursive handwriting of the 19th century, and thence to the typewriter keyboard invented toward the end of that century, and thence to the ASCII character set (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange), whence it has been propagated throughout the network world. The phonetic similarity between Latin "ad" and English "at" is not accidental; they are reflexes of Proto-Indo-European *ad (cf. Calvert Watkins, *American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots*).

    Charles Bigelow <>


    Someone might already have told you, but as I just came across your piece in the "Linguist" on in different languages I thought I'd mail you. My native language is Norwegian, and according to a friend (an editor of an interactive web publication) there are two Norwegian terms currently in use. The first is "snabel-a" (pronounced like in German you should get close, our phonology is not very different as the languages are closely related) which means "trunk (of an elephant)-a". The second, but most widely used, term is "alfa-kro/ll" (o/ being the Norwegian variety of o"- if it comes out like garble at your end: it's an o with a slash through it, pronounced like German o" in o"l/oel (oil) or French oe in soeur (sister)) - the term means "alfa-curl".

    Geir Skogseth Courtesy of: Jan-Sverre Syvertsen <> (I haven't got an e-mail address of my own, so I'm sending this from a friend of mine's computer)


    We, some of the members who took part in Tamilnet discussion [re a Tamil term for ] , have agreed to adopt the word "Inaichuzhi(li) for .

    Koh <>