On the Dot : The Speck That Changed the World: The Speck That Changed the World (Google eBook)

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, Sep 4, 2008 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 272 pages
6 Reviews
Despite the humble origins of its name (Anglo Saxon for "the speck at the head of a boil"), the dot has been one of the most versatile players in the history of written communication, to the point that it has become virtually indispensable. Now, in On the Dot, Alexander and Nicholas Humez offer a wide ranging, entertaining account of this much overlooked and miniscule linguistic sign. The Humez brothers shed light on the dot in all its various forms. As a mark of punctuation, they show, it plays many roles--as sentence stopper, a constituent of the colon (a clause stopper), and the ellipsis (dot dot dot). In musical notation, it denotes "and a half." In computerese, it has several different functions (as in dot com, the marker between a file name and its extension, and in some slightly more arcane uses in programming languages). The dot also plays a number of roles in mathematics, including the notation of world currency (such as dollars dot cents), in Morse code (dots and dashes), and in the raised dots of Braille. And as the authors connect all these dots, they take readers on an engaging tour of the highways and byways of language, ranging from the history of the question mark and its lesser known offshoots the point d'ironie and the interrobang, to acronyms and backronyms, power point bullets and asterisks, emoticons and the "at-sign." Playful, wide-ranging, and delightfully informative, On the Dot reveals how thoroughly the dot is embedded in our everyday world of words and ideas, acquiring a power inversely proportional to its diminutive size.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - amaraduende - LibraryThing

This book is full of segues and tangents that never actually end up relating back to the main point. That makes me angry. I love me a good tangent (see review of Bill Bryson). But this is ridiculous. Read full review

Review: On the Dot: The Speck That Changed the World

User Review  - Smitty - Goodreads

This book says it's about "the speck that changed the world," which would seem to say it's about the history of the dot and its various uses in punctuation. The table of contents corroborates this ... Read full review


Punctuality and the Coin Toss
Codes to Sigh For
Checklists and Dingbats
Musical Dots
Mr Sr et al
Ellipses Lacunae and Missing Links
Emendations of Immortality
Computation Punctuation
10 Bang The Dot Meets the Family
The End Point
Afterword and Acknowledgments

Decimals and Determinings

Common terms and phrases

Bibliographic information