On the Dot

On the Dot

The Speck That Changed the World

Book - 2008
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Despite the humble origins of its name (Anglo Saxon for "the speck at the head of a boil"), the dot has been one of the most versatile players in the history of written communication, to the point that it has become virtually indispensable. Now, in On the Dot, Alexander and Nicholas Humezoffer a wide ranging, entertaining account of this much overlooked and miniscule linguistic sign.The Humez brothers shed light on the dot in all its various forms. As a mark of punctuation, they show, it plays 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 hasseveral different functions (as in dot com, the marker between a file name and its extension, and in some slightly more arcane uses in programming languages). The dot also plays a number of roles in mathematics, including the notation of world currency (such as dollars dot cents), in Morse code(dots and dashes), and in the raised dots of Braille. And as the authors connect all these dots, they take readers on an engaging tour of the highways and byways of language, ranging from the history of the question mark and its lesser known offshoots the point d'ironie and the interrobang, toacronyms and backronyms, power point bullets and asterisks, emoticons and the "at-sign."Playful, wide-ranging, and delightfully informative, On the Dot reveals how thoroughly the dot is embedded in our everyday world of words and ideas, acquiring a power inversely proportional to its diminutive size.
Publisher: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2008.
ISBN: 9780195324990
Characteristics: xii, 256 p. ;,22 cm.
Additional Contributors: Humez, Nicholas D.


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VaughanPLKarenL Jan 27, 2017

For a book that's on the dot, the authors take their time getting to the point, and once they've gotten to the point immediately at hand, they deviate just as quickly from it. If you're looking for a detailed history complete with a variety of examples that illustrate the development of the dot in written communication, this is probably not going to cut it. That being said, if you don't mind taking a little meander through various topics such as proofreading, computer languages, and what i.e., e.g., cf., ibid, and the like stand for, among many other digressions, then Humez & Humez are sure to delight you in this stream of consciousness of a book!

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