Sunday, January 20, 2008


An interesting book I flipped through recently is "Quirky QWERTY: The
Story of the Keyboard Your Fingertips"

It briefly describes the history of the typewriter (and therefore the
computer) keyboard, in particular the layout of the keys.  Then it goes
into detail about each letter, number and punctuation symbol on the
standard keyboard.

There are lots of interesting facts that you could find easily on the
web these days.  But I guess they're all in one convenient place if
you're interested in written language and communication.

Some interesting tidbits:
* the "@" symbol has many pet names around the world, e.g. "chiocciola"
  (snail) in Italy, "Klammeraffe" (spider monkey - tail) in Germany and
  "snabela" (elephant's trunk a) in Sweden
* the ampersand, "&", is a joining of the letters in "Et", Latin for
* inverted commas are not universally used for marking speech - James
  Joyce hated them, calling them 'perverted commas'
* the use of spaces between words was introduced by Irish monks to help
  separate words in Latin text
* prior to the Middle Ages, there was little use of punctuation symbols

An interesting pair of symbols is used in Spanish.  An inverted question
mark is used at the start of a sentence that is a question, along with
the normal question mark at the end of the sentence.  Similarly, and
inverted exclamation mark is used at the start of an exclamation, along
with the normal exclamation mark at the end.

Wikipedia has good coverage of this sort of stuff:
* letters of the alphabet
* numerals
* punctuation marks