Shady Characters: Ampersands, Interrobangs and other Typographical Curiosities

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Every character we write or type is a link to the past, and in today's writing - be it printed, electronic or scrawled handwriting - their history stares right back at us. The full stop, for instance, is a plain-speaking herald of the creative freedom once enjoyed at the library of Alexandria, while its younger siblings the asterisk and dagger are ominous reminders of the literary crusades prosecuted by early Christians. This book charts the lives of some of the most intriguing examples, from the pilcrow to the ampersand and reveals the bust and boom endured by punctuation with each new technological innovation.

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Format Paperback. Condition Brand New. Description Where does the ampersand get its name from?

What does the hashtag have to do with commerce in ancient Rome? This book gives answers to these questions. From the pilcrow to the ampersand, it reflects the changes in written communication through the ages, charting how punctuation has adapted to each new technological innovation. What does the hashtag have to do with ancient Romans and Isaac Newton? How did a dash almost bring down the British establishment?


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The magnificent cast of Shady Characters reflects the changes in written communication through the ages, charting how punctuation has adapted to each new technological innovation and how the ways we express ourselves are constantly evolving. Together they form a rich, entertaining and surprising history of the written word and our continuing attempts to shape it.

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Shady Characters: Ampersands, Interrobangs and Other Typographical Curiosities by Keith Houston

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Shady Characters: Ampersands, Interrobangs and other Typographical Curiosities

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