Friday, 5 February 2021

don’t @ me

While the earliest known attested use is to be found in a fourteenth century translation of a Greek chronicle with the at symbol substituted for the α of amen for unknown reasons and in commerce as a glyph representing the unit of volume and mass the arroba on the Iberian Peninsula—about two stone or twelve kilograms before signifying a going rate, despite its inclusion on most Western keyboards, it remained something of a mystery until the widespread use of the internet and social media. Traditions outside of English general ledger accounting (and in reality everyone prior to email) perceived the rather useless upper carriage key as something twee mentioned in a typo—as in Afrikaans, Dutch, Finnish, German, Macedonian and Polish where it’s a tail of a pig, puppy, cat or monkey. Astutely in Norwegian, Welsh, Korean, Esperanto, Italian, Hungarian, Ukrainian and Belarusian it is the word for snail, whereas in Catalan, Hebrew, Swedish and Slovak it is the word for a pastry roll. Though informal stylings probably prevail, in the Kazakh language, @ is officially called айқұлақ—that is, the Moon’s Ear.