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Posts Tagged ‘ampersand

“Only connect”*…

 

These days everybody knows about the ampersand. It’s one of typography’s most unique and interesting characters.

Its rise to hipster fame has catapulted the ampersand from the sketchbooks of type designers onto just about every printable surface you can imagine, the variations of which seem endless. From traditional representations all the way to hyper-stylised forms that bear little resemblance to the original mark.

The varied nature of its form allows type designers a little creative freedom, and is often seen as an opportunity to inject some extra personality into a typeface. Officially classified as punctuation by todays unicode, it was in fact, once the 27th letter in the English alphabet existing as the graphical representation of the word ‘and’…

Fascinating: “The History of the Ampersand.”  For a celebration of this marvelous mark, see “And Further…

* E.M. Forster

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As we ponder plurality, we might send learned birthday greetings to Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus, better known simply as Erasmus; he was born on this date in 1466 (though some sources place his birth two days later).  A Catholic priest, social critic, teacher, translator, and theologian, probably best remembered for his book In Praise of Folly, he was the greatest scholar of the northern Renaissance, the first editor of the New Testament (“Do unto others…”), and an important figure in patristics and classical literature.  Among fellow scholars and philosophers he was– and is– known as the “Prince of the Humanists.”

Portrait of Erasmus of Rotterdam (1523) by Hans Holbein the Younger

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Written by LW

October 26, 2017 at 1:01 am

A Symbolic Achievement…

source: PaperBlog

Like the ampersand, the “@” symbol is not strictly a mark of punctuation; rather, it is a logogram or grammalogue, a shorthand for the word “at.”  Even so, it is as much a staple of modern communication as the semicolon or exclamation mark, punctuating email addresses and announcing Twitter usernames. Unlike the ampersand, though, whose journey to the top took two millennia of steady perseverance, the at symbol’s current fame is quite accidental. It can, in fact, be traced to the single stroke of a key made almost exactly four decades ago*

The whole story is @ Shady Characters (“The Secret Life of Punctuation”).

* Before it became the domain address marker– and the overall symbol– for email, “@” was used to denote the unit price (or weight) of an item:  10 books @ $1.00 would total $10.00…  the symbol is believed to have originated with medieval scribes who used the symbol to eliminate the two extra pen strokes that would have been necessary to write “at.”

As we check our spam filters, we might recall that it was on this date in 1958, in reaction to the Soviet’s Sputnik success the prior year, that Congress passed the legislation establishing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)… the Space Race was on.  (ARPA [now DARPA]– the sponsor of the work that spawned the internet and birthed the “@” in the form in which we all now use it– was born the same year out of the same concern over Soviet scientific progress.)

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