At sign

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@
At sign
Punctuation
apostrophe  '
brackets[ ]  ( )  { }  ⟨ ⟩
colon:
comma,  ،  
dash  –  —  ―
ellipsis  ...  . . .
exclamation mark!
full stop, period.
hyphen
hyphen-minus-
question mark?
quotation marks‘ ’  “ ”  ' '  " "
semicolon;
slash, stroke, solidus/  
Word dividers
interpunct·
space    
General typography
ampersand&
asterisk*
at sign@
backslash\
bullet
caret^
dagger† ‡
degree°
ditto mark
inverted exclamation mark¡
inverted question mark¿
number sign, pound, hash, octothorpe#
numero sign
obelus÷
ordinal indicatorº ª
percent, per mil% ‰
plus and minus+ −
basis point
pilcrow
prime    
section sign§
tilde~
underscore, understrike_
vertical bar, pipe, broken bar|    ¦
Intellectual property
copyright©
sound-recording copyright
registered trademark®
service mark
trademark
Uncommon typography
asterism
hedera
index, fist
interrobang
irony punctuation
lozenge
reference mark
tie
Related
In other scripts
 
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"@" and ":@" redirect here. For emoticon, see List of emoticons. For the letter A within a circle, see Enclosed A. For the album by John Zorn and Thurston Moore, see "@" (album).
@
At sign
Punctuation
apostrophe  '
brackets[ ]  ( )  { }  ⟨ ⟩
colon:
comma,  ،  
dash  –  —  ―
ellipsis  ...  . . .
exclamation mark!
full stop, period.
hyphen
hyphen-minus-
question mark?
quotation marks‘ ’  “ ”  ' '  " "
semicolon;
slash, stroke, solidus/  
Word dividers
interpunct·
space    
General typography
ampersand&
asterisk*
at sign@
backslash\
bullet
caret^
dagger† ‡
degree°
ditto mark
inverted exclamation mark¡
inverted question mark¿
number sign, pound, hash, octothorpe#
numero sign
obelus÷
ordinal indicatorº ª
percent, per mil% ‰
plus and minus+ −
basis point
pilcrow
prime    
section sign§
tilde~
underscore, understrike_
vertical bar, pipe, broken bar|    ¦
Intellectual property
copyright©
sound-recording copyright
registered trademark®
service mark
trademark
Uncommon typography
asterism
hedera
index, fist
interrobang
irony punctuation
lozenge
reference mark
tie
Related
In other scripts

The at-sign, @, normally read aloud as "at", also commonly called the at symbol or commercial at, and less commonly a wide range of other terms (such as the atpersand),[1][2][3][4] is originally an accounting and commercial invoice abbreviation meaning "at the rate of" (e.g. 7 widgets @ £2 = £14). It was not included on the keyboard of the earliest commercially successful typewriters, but was on at least one 1889 model[5] and the very successful Underwood models from the "Underwood No. 5" in 1900 onward. It is now universally included on computer keyboards. The mark is encoded at U+0040 @ commercial at (HTML: @).

The fact that there is no single word in English for the symbol has prompted some writers to use the French arobase[6] or Spanish and Portuguese arroba—or to coin new words such as asperand,[3] ampersat[7] or apetail[citation needed]—but none of these has achieved wide usage.

However, in Czech this symbol has widely used name zavináč, which means pickled herring or rollmops. The @-symbol arrived to Czech in e-mail addresses in late 90' and was not used there ever before, so the visual appearance was the only reason for choosing its name. There was even TV show in 1999 named Zavináč[8] dedicated to Internet. Similarly in other languages was this symbol named like little monkey or snail. (More in section Names in other languages.)

History[edit]

Origin theories[edit]

@ used to signify French "à" ("at") from a 1674 protocol from a Swedish court (Arboga rådhusrätt och magistrat)
The Aragonese @ symbol used in the 1448 "taula de Ariza" registry to denote a wheat shipment from Castile to the Kingdom of Aragon.[9]
@ symbol used as the initial "a" for the "amin" (amen) formula in the Bulgarian translation of the Manasses Chronicle (c. 1345).

There are several theories about the origin of the commercial at character.

Historical use[edit]

Whatever the origin of the @ symbol, the history of its usage is more well-known: it has long been used in Spanish and Portuguese as an abbreviation of arroba, a unit of weight equivalent to 25 pounds, and derived from the Arabic expression of "a quarter" (الربع pronounced ar-rubʿ).[10] An Italian academic claims to have traced the @ symbol to the 16th century, in a mercantile document sent by Francesco Lapi from Seville to Rome on May 4, 1536.[11] The document is about commerce with Pizarro, in particular the price of an @ of wine in Peru. In Italian, the symbol was interpreted to mean amphora (anfora). Currently, the word arroba means both the at-symbol and a unit of weight. In Italian, the symbol represents one amphora, a unit of weight and volume based upon the capacity of the standard amphora jar, and entered modern meaning and use as "at the rate of" or "at price of" in northern Europe.

Until now, the first historical document containing the @ symbol as a commercial one is the Spanish "Taula de Ariza", a registry to denote a wheat shipment from Castile to Aragon in the year 1448.

Modern use[edit]

Commercial usage[edit]

In contemporary English usage, @ is a commercial symbol, called at site or at rate meaning at and at the rate of. It has rarely been used in financial documents[clarification needed] or grocers' price tags, and is not used in standard typography.[12]

Since 23 October 2012, the At-sign is registered as a trade mark by the German Patent and Trade Mark Office – DPMA (registration number 302012038338) for @T.E.L.L. While company promoters have claimed that it may from now on be illegal for other commercial interests to use the At-sign, this only applies to identical or confusingly similar goods [13] and no court, German or otherwise, has yet ruled on this purported illegality.

Contemporary usage[edit]

A common contemporary use of @ is in email addresses (transmitted by SMTP), as in jdoe@example.com (the user jdoe located at site the example.com domain). BBN Technologies' Ray Tomlinson is credited with introducing this usage in 1971.[14] This idea of the symbol representing located at in the form user@host is also seen in other tools and protocols; for example, the Unix shell command ssh jdoe@example.net tries to establish an ssh connection to the computer with the hostname example.net using the username jdoe.

On web pages, organizations often obscure email addresses of their members or employees by omitting the @. This practice, known as address munging, makes the email addresses less vulnerable to spam programs that scan the internet for them.

Another contemporary use of the @ symbol in American English is adding information about a sporting event. Opposing sports teams sometimes have their names separated by a v. (for versus). However, the "v." may be replaced with "@" when also conveying at which team's home field the game will be played. In this case, the away team is written first.[15]

On some online forums without threaded discussions, @ is used to denote a reply; for instance: "@Jane" to respond to a comment Jane made earlier. Similarly, in some cases, @ is used for "attention" in email messages originally sent to someone else. For example, if an email was sent from Catherine to Steve, but in the body of the email, Catherine wants to make Keirsten aware of something, Catherine will start the line "@Keirsten" to indicate to Keirsten that the following sentence concerns her. This also helps with mobile email users who cannot see bold or color in email.

In microblogging (such as Twitter and StatusNet-based microblogs), @ before the user name is used to send publicly readable replies (e.g. "@otheruser: Message text here"). The blog and client software can automatically interpret these as links to the user in question. This use of the @ symbol was also made available to Facebook users on September 15, 2009.[16] In Internet Relay Chat (IRC), it is shown before users' nicks to denote they have operator status on a channel.

@ is also used on some wireless routers/modems, where a solid green @ symbol indicates the router is connected and a solid amber @ indicates there is a problem[citation needed].

Computer programming[edit]

@ is used in various programming languages although there is not a consistent theme to its usage. For example:

Gender-neutrality in Spanish and Portuguese[edit]

In Portuguese and Spanish, as well in other West Iberian languages where many words end in '-o' when in the masculine gender and end '-a' in the feminine, @ is sometimes used as a gender-neutral substitute for the default 'o' ending,[24] which some advocates of gender-neutral language-modification feel indicates implicit linguistic disregard for women. These languages do not possess a neutral gender and the masculine forms are also used traditionally when referring to groups of mixed or unknown sex. The at-sign is intended to replace the desinence '-o', including its plural form '-os', due to the resemblance to a digraph of an inner letter 'a' and an outer letter 'o'.

As an example of the @ being used for gender-inclusive purposes, we can consider the Spanish and Portuguese word amigos. When the word represents not only male friends, but also female ones, the proponents of a gender-inclusive language replace it with amig@s. In this sense, amigos would be used only when the writer is sure the group referred to is all-male. Usage of amigas is the same in traditional and such new forms of communication. Alternative forms for a gender-inclusive at-sign would be the slash sign (amigos/as) and the circle-A, (amigⒶs).[citation needed] However, it is more common to use the masculine ending first and include the feminine in parentheses, as in amigos(as). For more about this, see Satiric misspelling.

The Real Academia Española disapproves of the use of the at-sign as a letter.[25]

Other uses and meanings[edit]

Names in other languages[edit]

In many languages other than English, although most typewriters included the symbol, the use of @ was less common before email became widespread in the mid-1990s. Consequently, it is often perceived in those languages as denoting "the Internet", computerization, or modernization in general.

@ on a DVK Soviet computer (c. 1984)

Unicode variants[edit]

In culture[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "ASCII", The Jargon File (version 4.4.7)
  2. ^ "@: 'Commercial at' doesn't sound sexy", Tom Angleberger, The Roanake Times"
  3. ^ a b "New York's Moma claims @ as a design classic", Jemima Kiss, 28 March 2010, The Observer
  4. ^ "The at symbol a la mode."
  5. ^ "The @-symbol, part 2 of 2", Shady Characters ⌂ The secret life of punctuation
  6. ^ "Short Cuts", Daniel Soar, Vol. 31 No. 10 · 28 May 2009 page 18, London Review of Books
  7. ^ "… Tim Gowens offered the highly logical "ampersat" …", 05 February 1996, The Independent
  8. ^ http://www.csfd.cz/film/252905-zavinac/
  9. ^ "La arroba no es de Sevilla (ni de Italia)". purnas.com. Jorge Romance. Retrieved 2009-06-30. 
  10. ^ "arroba". Diccionario de la Real Academia Española. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  11. ^ Willan, Philip (2000-07-31). "Merchant@Florence Wrote It First 500 Years Ago". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  12. ^ Bringhurst, Robert (2002). The Elements of Typographic Style (version 2.5), p.272. Vancouver: Hartley & Marks. ISBN 0-88179-133-4.
  13. ^ Article 5 Trade Marks Directive, as interpreted in Case C-251/95 Sabel BV v Puma AG [1997] ECR I-6191
  14. ^ http://openmap.bbn.com/~tomlinso/ray/firstemailframe.html
  15. ^ For an example, see: http://www.nfl.com/schedules
  16. ^ Tag Friends in Your Status and Posts | Facebook Blog
  17. ^ 2.4.4.5 String literals,
  18. ^ 2.4.2 Identifiers
  19. ^ Razor syntax quick reference
  20. ^ ASP.NET MVC 3: Razor’s @: and <text> syntax
  21. ^ PHP: Error Control Operators – Manual
  22. ^ "Visual FoxPro Programming Language Online Help: SET UDFPARMS (Command), or MSDN Library 'How to: Pass Data to Parameters by Reference'.". Microsoft, Inc. Retrieved 2011-02-19. 
  23. ^ "Windows PowerShell Language Specification 3.0 (PDF)"
  24. ^ Martell-Otero, Loida (Fall 2009). "Doctoral Studies as Llamamiento, or How We All Need to be 'Ugly Betty'". Perspectivas: 84–106. 
  25. ^ DPD 1ͺ ediciσn, 2ͺ tirada
  26. ^ Constable, Peter, and Lorna A. Priest (October 12, 2009) SIL Corporate PUA Assignments 5.2a. SIL International. pp. 59-60. Retrieved on April 12, 2010.
  27. ^ a b "Why @ Is Held in Such High Design Esteem". The New York Times, Alice Rawsthorn, March 21, 2010. 2010-03-22. Archived from the original on 24 March 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  28. ^ "At last, France has a name for the @ sign", December 9, 2002, iol.co.za
  29. ^ Orthographe fixée par la Commission générale de terminologie et de néologie (Journal officiel du 8 décembre 2002)
  30. ^ "The ARRL Letter", Vol. 23, No. 18, April 30, 2004
  31. ^ "Meeting Twelve – P-51 Mustang, Tempting Fate, Inventions Being Used for Things They Weren't Designed For". The Museum of Curiosity. Season 2. Episode 6. 8 June 2009.
  32. ^ John Lloyd and John Mitchinson (6 November 2006). QI – The Complete First Series: "Factoids" (Audio Commentary) (DVD). BBC and 2 Entertain. OCLC 271537078. UPC 5014503232528. 
  33. ^ "English invades Chinese language", August 17, 2007", People's Daily Online
  34. ^ "Couple try to name baby @", August 17, 2007, NZ Herald

External links[edit]