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ASCII Pronunciation Rules for Programmers


The “*” character is called an “asterix” by many South Africans. Not that they think it resembles a small Gaulish warrior though, they just seem unable to pronounce it ending with -isk rather than -ix.


I think the American pronunciations for these symbols should take precedence. We are talking about the American Standard Code for Information Interchange anyway…


OMG. I get here late and no one mention the lack of inch mark (") and foot mark (’). I use those terms to differentiate from the slanted and/or curved quote, double quote, and apostrophe not represented on a US keyboard. Yes, I love my imperial units.

@rj: Who the * thinks @ is called “ampersand”?

@Mike McClelland: often called “not”, being the symbol of logical negation. The use of tilde for negation in programming is a limitation of the keyboard.


no “she bang” ? :slight_smile:


Some more German:

[] - “eckige Klammern” (squared brackets/parenthesis)
{} - “geschweifte Klammern” (curly brackets/parenthesis)
() - “runde Klammern” (round brackets/parenthesis)
Round ones sometimes are just called “Klammern”, as these are the normal ones you’d expect in text.

Usually you say whether you open or close them:

“eckige Klammer auf/zu” (square bracket open/close)

And despite what some people claimed here, it might be that some Germans call # “Lattenzaun” (actually translates to picket fence I’d say), but this is not the correct German name. The correct German name is also not “Doppelkreuz” (double cross). The correct German name is “Raute” (and that is in fact “lozenge”, as the inner part is a rhomboid where all four sides are equal in length and this is named a lozenge - http://tinyurl.com/4zkse8)

BTW, I know some people who call spiked brackets (German “spitze Klammern”)

Regarding @: It used to have funny names in the past, but fortunately more and more people start simply calling it the at-sign :slight_smile:


Sorry, the link is broken. Correct link is here:


Good one!! :slight_smile: Thanks for the article… I dint know that ‘#’ was called a pound!



I hate to be the one to kill some of the fun, but dieresis is (like to little dots) in Spanish it is used above de vowels in some words, like Pingino … But… that sign doesn’t have anything to do with

Anyway… I would have to control myself to not use the Wow name for !


Coming from a scientific background, I usually call ^ ‘power’, as in 1.2*10^5: ‘one point two times ten to the power five’


Regarding the tilde (~), I first encountered it whilst at school, where it was used by an application on the RM Nimbus (if you remember that!), as a prefix in file names, along with the reverse apostrophe (`), neither of which were available on the standard keyboard.

As a result, the class geeks simply learned the ASCII numbers for those characters, so we could enter ALT-126 or ALT-96 as required.

This has also come up recently in my job, when I sometimes have to work on various different keyboard layouts (UK, Japanese, French, Swedish, German, Spanish and Italian), and when I need a backslash, it’s easier to type ALT-92 than go hunting for which key it’s on this week.


Caret, underscore, and pipe are far more commonly used here than the bolded words. Pipe especially - have you ever heard of “bar-delimited” text?

Coming from a Delphi background, I’ve also always known the @ character as address or address-of.


Although I would never say it aloud, I still think of and as alligator symbols, because that’s the way they were taught to me in grade school. As in, the alligator always wants to eat what’s larger.


above post referring to and ;, they got stripped out!


I wonder where you get all these blog topic ideas from :slight_smile:


Just coincidence that Americans call # the pound sign when the UK pound sign is on the same key in UK keyboard layouts?


Whatever happened to my favorite?

  • = squishy bug


@Jesse: Pascal’s variable assignment := is called “gets”. “a := a + 1” or “a gets a plus one”. Seems similar to that. Comes from those mathematicians (as they also seem to like to write programs) who seem to always ensist that “a = a + 1” makes no sense from a mathemetical point of view.


Any old IBMers out there? When I was there for a brief stint a long while back, I noticed that they seem to use their own names for things (e.g. Monitor = CRT, Hard Disk = DASD, etc.). Anyone know “traditional” IBM speak for these characters?


Some contributions from Sweden (poorly translated)

@ = Elephant trunk A
@ = Cinnamon bun

{} = Sea gul wings

= Lumber yard

= Pile of sticks

= Fence


It’s been a long time since I had to type anything in French, but don’t most French layouts use the same key for comma and cedilla? Press it once and then c, and you get ; press it twice, you get a regular comma. That would explain why they’re given the same name, even though they have completely different meanings.

Could be wrong though… or maybe it’s just English keyboards using French layouts (common in Canada!)