Re: of octothorps and at signs

Subject: Re: of octothorps and at signs
From: "Cepek, Marta" <marta -at- M3ISYSTEMS -dot- QC -dot- CA>
Date: Wed, 10 May 1995 20:13:46 -0400

>After not finding octothorp in my Webster's dictionary, I looked
>elsewhere. According to "Mark My Words: Instruction and Practice in
>Proofreading," by Peggy Smith of Editorial Experts, the symbol # is
>called an octothorp, space sign, or grating.

I couldn't find it in my Oxford, either. I wonder at the etymology, since=20
the grid makes *nine* squares, not eight (octo=3Deight). Thorpe? who knows.

>So here's the question: how did the octothorp become more commonly
>known as the pound sign?

I was sent to England last year to write a specification, and it was there=
that I came up with this theory: on the British keyboard, the <shift-3>=20
character is the "=A3" (British stirling pound). On our US-layout=
the same <shift-3> is the "#" symbol (I prefer calling it a "hash"). Among=
other differences I noticed between our keyboards is the placement of the=20
slash "/" (now known to me as the "virgule") and the backslash "\" (I don't=
remember which one now, but one of them is to the *left* of the "Z" (go=20
figure!). And for some reason, the "@" is in the the double-quote's (")=20
position, with the double-quote at <shift-2>. I got a few e-mails bounced=
back before I noticed I was writing to <name"address.wherever>.

>And just to make things even more interesting, one of the
>typographers that I work with said he had heard the at-sign referred
>to as the "apiece" sign.

Possibly of British origin? You'd be surprised at the number of differences=
between US English and UK English.


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