About | Project Members | Research Assistants | Contact | Posting FAQ | Credits

The @ Sign

Typographical character frequently used and put to novel uses in the online environment.

“The @ symbol has been a central part of the Internet and its forerunners ever since it was chosen to be a separator in e-mail addresses by Ray Tomlinson in 1972. From puzzled comments which surface from time to time in various newsgroups, it appears the biggest problem for many Net users is deciding what to call it. This is perhaps unsurprising, as outside the narrow limits of bookkeeping, invoicing and related areas few people use it regularly. Even fewer ever have to find a name for it, so it’s noted mentally as something like ‘that letter a with the curly line round it.’â€? (from World Wide Words)

In addition to its functions in the online realm, the “@â€? symbol is increasingly commonly used to render gendered words, usually of Spanish origin, gender-neutral. For example, in referencing a population of Latinos and Latinas, typists can record Latin@s to include both men and women, without using the default of the male-specific suffix.

Starter Links: World Wide Words

  tl, 03.28.06

Comments are closed.