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 avid gamers within the heritage of written conversation, to the purpose that it has develop into nearly quintessential. Now, in at the Dot, Alexander and Nicholas Humez provide a breathtaking, interesting account of this a lot missed and miniscule linguistic signal. The Humez brothers make clear the dot in all its a number of 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 various features (as in dot com, the marker among a dossier identify and its extension, and in a few 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 global forex (such as money dot cents), in Morse code (dots and dashes), and within the raised dots of Braille. and because the authors attach a majority of these dots, they take readers on a fascinating travel of the highways and byways of language, starting from the historical past 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 unearths how completely the dot is embedded in our daily global of phrases and ideas, buying an influence inversely proportional to its diminutive measurement.
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Extra info for On the Dot: The Speck That Changed the World
Buy stamps at post office. 4. Go home. Or, more elaborately, 1. Run errands: • Pick up prescriptions at the pharmacy. • Get stuff at the grocery store: with a bullet 31 ✓ Bread ✓ Milk ✓ Etc. • Get stamps at post office. 2. Go home. 32 The idea is that you run errands and then go home in that order. Your errands are to go to the pharmacy and grocery store and post office in whichever order you like (though the presumption is that you will do all three) and that while at the grocery store you’ll get the stuff on the shopping list.
The Grand Chiffre’s codebooks do not seem to have long survived the three men themselves and it was not until the 1890s that Étienne Bazeries, a French army officer and cryptographer, was able to make headway in cracking the code, starting from the lucky guess that a frequent combination in the surviving encoded texts should be decoded as les ennemis (“the enemies”). In 1893 Bazeries caused considerable excitement by claiming to have decoded a letter positively identifying the “Man in the Iron Mask,” the mysterious high-ranking prisoner whose hidden identity on the dot was the subject of much speculation in the two centuries following his death in 1703, not to say fair game for the pen of Alexandre Dumas.
On the dot Indeed, the students at Braille’s school became such quick studies at his system that they put their teachers to shame; they successfully resisted attempts to suppress its use on the part of administrators with considerably less facility in it than their charges, another instance in which something that is a mere code to some people can function as a de facto cipher to others. (This is also, of course, the utility value of second languages that parents use in front of children for conversations whose contents they do not wish their little-pitcherswith-big-ears to understand.