Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 18th Mar 2015 13:39 UTC
Features, Office

Since then the β€˜%’ has gone from strength to strength, and today we revel in a whole family of β€œper β€"β€"β€"β€"” signs, with β€˜%’ joined by β€˜β€°β€™ (β€œper mille”, or per thousand) and β€˜β€±β€™ (per ten thousand). All very logical, on the face of it, and all based on a fundamental misunderstanding of how the percent sign came to be. Nina and I can comfort ourselves that we are not the first people, and likely will not be the last, to have made the same mistake.

I love stories like this. The history of our punctuation marks and symbols is often quite fascinating.

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Comment by Drumhellar
by Drumhellar on Wed 18th Mar 2015 19:06 UTC
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I wonder how the printing press figures in.

For English speakers, the 'th' sound used to be represented by the letter Thorn, printed as 'Þ' (U+00DE).

However, long ago, printing presses in Europe were still being made exclusively in Germany, and they didn't have a character for 'Þ', so the 'th' was eventually adopted as the default way to print that sound.

For a time, people also used 'Y', so when you see a sign that Medieval-English styled signs that use the word "Ye" should still be pronounced with a 'Th' instead of a 'Y'. And, if the sign is hand-painted, it's completely wrong. It was only used that way for printing. Hand-made, hand-painted signs would've used thorn.

"The Olde Moustachery", rather than "Ye olde Moustachery"

Reply Score: 5

RE: Comment by Drumhellar
by AWdrius on Wed 18th Mar 2015 19:58 UTC in reply to "Comment by Drumhellar"
AWdrius Member since:

I would have never considered that 'Y' should be used as 'Th' (I'm not a native English speaker). Now it explains 'Ye old barrel inn' in fantasy literature. I always thought it was there to put some 'old spice' on the story (-.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Drumhellar
by pepa on Fri 20th Mar 2015 17:38 UTC in reply to "Comment by Drumhellar"
pepa Member since:

Ye was in use as a pronoun. But ye as an article is indeed like you say.

Reply Score: 2

by Treza on Wed 18th Mar 2015 22:01 UTC
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My own pet peeve about wrong characters is the use of lowercase 'i', 'v' and 'x' for numbering pages in introductory chapters.

The roman numbers I, V, X and L are not initials of words, unlike C for Centum or M for Mille.
They emerged instead the simplest shapes to carve into wood, (or granite, marble). They are older than the alphabet.

Turning them into lowercase is absurd.

Reply Score: 2

by Drumhellar on Thu 19th Mar 2015 00:51 UTC in reply to "MMXV"
Drumhellar Member since:

Lower-case letters were invented during the Middle Ages, and lower-case Roman numerals have been used ever since. It's hard to argue that it is wrong when it's been done for a thousand years.

Additionally, since capital Roman numerals are frequently used to denote either chapters or sections of a larger work, and Arabic numerals are used for individual page numbers of the work, it is appropriate to use a different set of symbols for introductory pages. In this case, lower-case Roman numerals make sense.

Reply Score: 3

Minor observation
by M.Onty on Thu 19th Mar 2015 11:41 UTC
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On OSNews' front page the per-mille and per-thousand symbols aren't portrayed properly. Once you click through to the story they are. Then if you view comments they aren't again. All three pages' HTML heads declare the same encoding, so I'm guessing the server has got some legacy text parsing methods hanging around in dark corners.

Reply Score: 3