the contextual life

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Something about and—probably its utter indispensability—has made it prone to being expressed by other means than just the standard three letters. The plus sign is a favorite of instant messengers, note takers, hip hop songwriters, conglomerates (Gulf + Western), and people demonstrating eternal love by carving their initials into trees. A little more elegant is the ampersand (&), which dates from the first century and is a ligature, or combination, of the letters e and t (and in Latin) into a single symbol. It was included in systems of typography starting in the fifteenth century, and ever since has been the character into which a type designer can inject the most artistic flair. the word “ampersand” didn’t come into being until the nineteenth century. At that time & was customarily taught as the twenty-seventh letter of the alphabet and pronounced “and.” When school children recited their ABCs, they concluded with the words, “and, per se [i.e., by itself], ‘and.’ ” This eventually became corrupted to “ampersand.”

—ben yagoda, when you catch an adjective, kill it (2007)

[soundtrack] :: matmos // exciter lamp and variable band // supreme balloon (2008)

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Written by Gabrielle

October 24, 2010 at 7:15 pm

Posted in grammar

Tagged with , ,

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