Posted by: episystechpubs | February 4, 2013

Editor’s Corner: @

I’m feeling a bit like Grog the caveman today, which means talking is at the bottom of the list after killing bison, washing the gathered grains and weeds, making a blanket out of bison fur, and sweeping out my corner of the cave. Instead of more words today, Grog take break. Grog give symbol of snail, unless Grog eat snail.

From Grammar Girl:

Where Did the @ Symbol Come From?

How Old Is the @ Symbol?

Every source I found seemed to have a different date for the origin of the “at” symbol, so I’m not going to commit to a certain date. Let’s just say it was a long time ago—at least in the Middle Ages.

Many sources including the Ask Oxford website and a book called Letter by Letter: An Alphabetical Miscellany reported that the "at" symbol comes from shorthand for the Latin word "ad"—A.D.—which means “to, toward, or at." Scribes used to use it to list prices on invoices and accounting sheets, as in 12 eggs AT one penny per egg.

Names for the @ Symbol

The “at” symbol, by the way, is more formally known in English as the “commercial at,” presumably because of its original use in commerce. It has various names in other languages, and one of my favorites is Italian, in which it is playfully called the “snail.” Longtime listeners or people who have my books will know that in my example sentences, I like to use a character called Squiggly who is a snail. [Grog – Grog no like Squiggly. Grog hit Squiggly with club.] I’ve also seen it called a strudel and a cinnamon roll, which are both cute because it is shaped kind of like a rolled up pastry. [Grog – Mmmm…Grog like cute pastry.]

@ on Keyboards

A book called Managing Web Usage in the Workplace tells of examining pictures of old typewriters and finding that it was relatively common for the @ symbol to be included on the keyboard starting around 1880.

@ for E-mail Addresses

Ray Tomlinson first used the “at” symbol to format an e-mail address using ARPAnet in 1971 for a message he sent to himself from one computer to another to test the system, and amusingly, he’s repeatedly been quoted as saying he doesn’t remember what the message said—it was just some forgettable test message—because he didn’t think it was a big deal at the time.

@ on Twitter

More recently, if you use Twitter, you know that you indicate a reply to someone by prefacing his or her name with the @ symbol, but it wasn’t that way in the early days of Twitter. Users started putting @ before someone’s name to indicate that it was a reply, and the people at Twitter noticed and wrote it into the system so that when you hit the reply link, it automatically inserts the @ symbol. Lately, it’s been showing up more as a general symbol to indicate a response. For example, people use it in the comments section to indicate that they’re responding to someone who posted earlier.

For the full article see:

NOTICE: This electronic mail message and any files transmitted with it are intended
exclusively for the individual or entity to which it is addressed. The message,
together with any attachment, may contain confidential and/or privileged information.
Any unauthorized review, use, printing, saving, copying, disclosure or distribution
is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please
immediately advise the sender by reply email and delete all copies.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: