By Alexander Humez
Regardless of the common-or-garden origins of its identify (Anglo Saxon for "the speck on the head of a boil"), the dot has been the most flexible gamers within the historical past of written verbal exchange, to the purpose that it has develop into almost quintessential. Now, in at the Dot, Alexander and Nicholas Humez provide a breathtaking, exciting account of this a lot neglected and miniscule linguistic signal. The Humez brothers make clear the dot in all its numerous varieties. As a mark of punctuation, they convey, it performs many roles--as sentence stopper, a constituent of the colon (a clause stopper), and the ellipsis (dot dot dot). In musical notation, it denotes "and a half." In computerese, it has a number of assorted services (as in dot com, the marker among a dossier identify and its extension, and in a few just a little extra arcane makes use of in programming languages). The dot additionally performs a couple of roles in arithmetic, together with the notation of worldwide forex (such as money dot cents), in Morse code (dots and dashes), and within the raised dots of Braille. and because the authors attach most of these dots, they take readers on a fascinating journey of the highways and byways of language, starting from the heritage of the query mark and its lesser identified offshoots the purpose d'ironie and the interrobang, to acronyms and backronyms, energy aspect bullets and asterisks, emoticons and the "at-sign." Playful, wide-ranging, and delightfully informative, at the Dot finds how completely the dot is embedded in our daily international of phrases and ideas, buying an influence inversely proportional to its diminutive dimension.
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Extra resources for On the Dot: The Speck That Changed the World
We live in a bulleted age. Bulleted lists are lists of things that (at least in theory) you can do in any order you like (and perhaps skip the ones you don’t feel like doing). In the context of a list, a bullet is simply a raised dot: • Do this (maybe). • And/or this (maybe). • And/or that (maybe). The raised dot as bullet item marker does not have a monopoly on that typographical niche: Alternative representations, such as the asterisk and the checkmark, also serve to mark items in an unordered list (the latter being why we sometimes refer to such an inventory as a checklist).
This is tidier than both twins being half mortal and half divine, a condition not unlike that of Strephon, offspring of the Lord Chancellor . . and a half 47 48 and a fairy named Iolanthe in her eponymous Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. ” Doing things by halves is one of those sayings that grammatically should allow of both a negative and positive, but in practice only the negative is actually used. ) Of course, in a sense we do do things by halves every time we go halvesies (or in some places halfsies), which is to say even Steven, probably rhyming slang and usually referring to a two-way division, as opposed to share and share alike, which can be any number.
Then there are microdots, developed by Germany during World War II: By taking a photograph of a document and reducing it to a very tiny circular phototransparency, an agent can convey a large amount of information in a miniature form that can be hidden as the dot over an i in a typewritten document. All the recipient needs is to know where to look for it, peel it off, and put it under a powerful enough overhead projector or photographic enlarger, with the enemy unaware that anything other than the full-sized cover message has changed hands.