Where it’s @

ear sculpture

The @ symbol has become so common in electronic communication that we don’t even notice it anymore.  But a few short years ago, before Twitter and before email, this was a little-used symbol stuck above the 2 on your favorite typewriter (yes, that many years ago).

Since email began spreading around the world, many countries have put their come up with many names for what is commonly called the at symbol in English.

In Bosnian, it’s the crazy a.  In Hebrew, it’s strudel (yum!).  Many people see animals, leading to names like elephant’s trunk (Danish), spider monkey (German), snail (Italian), and dog (Russian).  It is also called ear in Ukrainian.

Wikipedia has a more complete list.  This could make for an interesting icebreaker discussion in an appropriately diverse ESL class.  But be warned that more and more languages are being overtaken of the English pronunciation of at or literal translations of the word.  Pretty soon, it may just be at for all of us.

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