The @ Symbol – International & Cultural Differences

at symbol international differences

The @ Symbol – International & Cultural Differences

at_symbol_international_differences_20121119-094348_1.pngDo you think the “at” @ symbol is called ‘at’ all over the world? Think again! Here’s a look at some of the more interesting names.

Who doesn’t know the “at” sign – @? Not many nowadays. Although it was used before the internet on typewriters, the majority of people associate the symbol with emails and the World Wide Web. However, did you know it isn’t called “at” all over the world? In fact, other countries and cultures have some very interesting names for the symbol.

Here is a list of some of the more interesting names used over the world displaying the cultural differences that exist around this everyday part of our language.

  • In South Africa (Afrikaans) it’s called “aapstert” which means “monkey tail”.
  • In Armenia it is known as “shnik” which means puppy.
  • In Belarusia it’s called “helix” or “snail”.
  • In Bosnia it is “ludo a” (“crazy a”).
  • In Bulgaria it is called maymunsko a “monkey A” or maimunka “little monkey”.
  • In mainland China, it is quan A, meaning “enclosed A” or hua A meaning “lacy A”. Sometimes as xiao laoshu meaning “little mouse”.
  • In Croatia it is informally known as a manki, coming from the local pronunciation of the English word, monkey.
  • In Czech and Slovak, it is called zavináč, which means (rollmops).
  • In Danish it is snabel-a (“(elephant’s) trunk-a”).
  • In Dutch it is called apenstaartje (“(little) monkey-tail”).
  • In Germany it sometimes used to be referred to as Klammeraffe (meaning “spider monkey”). Klammeraffe refers to the similarity of @ to the tail of a monkey grabbing a branch.
  • In Greece it is most often referred to as papaki meaning “duckling,” due to the similarity it bears with comic character designs for ducks.
  • In Greenlandic and Inuit language, it is called aajusaq meaning “a-like” or “something that looks like a”.
  • In Hebrew it is colloquially known as shtrudel due to the visual resemblance to a cross-section cut of a strudel.
  • In Hungary it is called kukac (“worm, maggot”).
  • In Italy it is chiocciola (“snail”)
  • In Kazakh it is officially called “moon’s ear”, sometimes unofficial as “dog’s head”.
  • In Korea it is called golbaeng-i (“bai top shells”).
  • In Norway it is officially called krøllalfa (“curly alpha” or “alpha twirl”).
  • In Poland it is called, both officially and commonly małpa (monkey); sometimes also małpka (little monkey).
  • In Russia it is most commonly sobaka  (dog). The name “dog” has come from Soviet computers DVK where the symbol had a short tail and similarity to a dog.
  • In Turkey it is et (using the English pronunciation). Also called as güzel a (beautiful a), özel a (special a), salyangoz (snail), koç (ram), kuyruklu a (a with a tail), çengelli a (a with hook) and kulak (ear).
  • In Vietnam it is called a còng (bent a) in the North and a móc (hooked a) in the South.
  • In Welsh it is sometimes known as a malwen or malwoden (a snail).

Can you think of any other names for the @ symbol? If so please send them to us and we will publish them here with a credit to you.

Katia Reed
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