There are a number of punctuation marks you have probably never payed attention to, such as the Hashtags, ampersands, and pilcrows, but they have a number of weird facts behind them.
& Has a More Complex Meaning Than You Think
You know when you see an ampersand or & symbol, you tend to pronounce it like the word ‘and’, but the word and symbol aren’t always interchangeable.
The & symbol can denote a cozier relationship between two things. For example, have you noticed in movie credits that sometimes two names will be joined with an & and others with the word and?
That’s because the Writers Guild of America uses the & symbol to say two writers collaborated directly with one another, while the word ‘and’ means the writers worked on the script individually, at separate times.
The Full Stop .
The period or “full stop” as it’s known in much of the United Kingdom has been around since the 3rd century BC. The original Greek symbol for the full stop used to hover at the top of the line instead of resting on the bottom of the line as we see it today.
The meaning of the full stop has remained pretty much unchanged for 2,300 years (it marks the end of a thought), modern texting technology may finally move away from the regular meaning and use.
A study conducted at Binghamton University in 2016 found that text messages concluded with a period were perceived as insincere compared to messages without any terminal punctuation at all.
Depending on when you were born, you probably know the # symbol as either a pound sign, number sign, or for the Twitter junkies among us, a hashtag.
As it turns out, none of those names are right. The symbol was made formal by an engineer at Bell Labs (formerly part of AT&T), through its touch-tone telephones in 1968. That little hex is called an octothorpe.
The octo logically describes the symbol’s eight points. The thorpe part of the name seems to have been derived from the Old English word for village (thorp), referencing the hex’s appearance of eight little fields surrounding a central square.
When next you use a hashtag, know that you are using an octothorpe.
@ Symbol Has Some Pretty Funny Names
The Dutch refer to the @ symbol as monkey’s tail, while tge Israelis insists it’s a strudel. Shorthand use of the @ dates back to the 16th century, and it took English speakers a long time to settle on a name.
Today, it is known as the “at mark” or “commercial at” and we are accustomed to seeing it in e-mail addresses.
! Was Quite Difficult To Type
Though the exclamation point has helped express strong sentiments on written words as far back as the 15th century, this upstanding punctuation mark didn’t get its own dedicated typewriter key until the 1970s.
Before then, typists who wanted to use interjections in their work had to type a period, then backspace and type an apostrophe atop it.
Secretarial manuals of the 1950s called this Franken-symbol a bang (different from the interrobang), which is an exclamation point overlapping with a question mark to indicate incredulity.