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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: December ::
Re: Type Symbols
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.2351  Monday, 18 December 2000

[1]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Friday, 15 Dec 2000 09:57:06 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2339 Re: Type Symbols

[2]     From:   John Robinson <
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        Date:   Friday, 15 Dec 2000 13:14:27 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2339 Re: Type Symbols


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Friday, 15 Dec 2000 09:57:06 -0600
Subject: 11.2339 Re: Type Symbols
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2339 Re: Type Symbols

My two cents worth (and probably worth every penny):

The characters used all appear at the top of the Qwerty keyboard as the
capitals for the numbers. They would not appear as such on typesetting
machines. I guess that newspaper columnists or feature writers of
yesteryear simply hit the caps lock key on their Underwoods and ran down
the top row (as you can still do  -- *&%$#@!), when they wanted to
indicate profanity. This idea was then picked up by cartoonists. I
suppose the cartoonists may have thought it up on their own but it's
hard to imagine why they would pick those symbols and not others.  The
association with the typewriter keyboard appears to me to be clear.

To generalize this back out to matters more relevant to the list: is
there a good general study of euphemism? As we all know, Mercutio had no
reluctance to speak very blatantly, and so did many other Shakespearean
character, female as well as male. This frankness declined as time went
on until finally author's had to put in dashes for things like "damn"
and "hell," much less more serious kinds of swearing. And then it all
returned in a rush in the past half century. Has anyone studied this
process enough to detect a pattern in it. Nothing serious, but I'm just
curious.

regards,
don

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Robinson <
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Date:           Friday, 15 Dec 2000 13:14:27 EST
Subject: 11.2339 Re: Type Symbols
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2339 Re: Type Symbols

> John Robinson suggests "wingdings" and Fran Teague offers "dingbats,"
>  but the characters depicted below are actually common typesetting
>  symbols that are used in setting text, and each has an individual name:
>  percent sign, at sign, pound or number sign, circumflex, question mark,
>  dollar sign, asterisk, ampersand.

Actually the question was:

>>Does anyone here know if there is a name for symbols when they are used
>> in type to substitute for obscenities or the like? The "%@#^?$*&" or the
>> like? [my emphasis]

Even though MS as a similar feature on the word programs, MS didn't
invent the concept of, or the word, "wingdings."   I stand by my
original answer.  I think I was told these years ago by Alan Dundes, the
Folklore Prof. at U.C.Berkeley. I looked for a reference in my own
massive library but haven't located one so far. Stay tuned for further
developments.

Regards,
John
 

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