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ASCII Pronunciation Rules for Programmers


In the UK:-

() - brackets
[] - square brackets
{} - curly brackets


I would like to bring this into the limelight that some people use start/stop parenthesis, bracket and braces for (), [] and {} respectively. Using this convention allows listener to clearly visualize what speaker is trying to convey.


every technical speaker should read this.


In Python they use a lot of double underscores. I’ve heard of a movement to call that character combo a “dunder” as in __mifflin


I don’t know how this originated, but growing up (in Florida) my programmer friends and I called ‘{’ ‘}’ “french brackets/braces”. I’ve never found anyone else who used those terms, and I don’t know where they originated.


I would like to take this opportunity to take the bold, prescriptive stance that


There is a slash. There is a backslash. That is all.


Um, a cedille has nothing to do with a comma.


An old teacher of mine consistently called [ and ] “sub” and “bus”, respectively. It has a nice symmetry to it, don’t you think?


Really a nice topic to talk on, It would be fun if we all try this thing among ourselves and check what we all pronounce…This is certainly going to b a fun Session for me on next weekend…Thanks for a nice list and a excellent idea…

And i was amased to c the “@” is called APE, ROSE, CAT and CABBAGE???
How this name came upon???


We generally use the word ‘sub’ for the underscore in code reviews. Its faster as one syllable.


A professor at my university taught me and everyone else on the course to say ‘fnut’ for ’ and ‘double-fnut’ for ". It is now the standard term for those characters among the students.

I’m not sure about the American Qwerty keyboard, but at least on the Norwegian it is very difficult to reach those characters. The tilde for example, will only appear if you enter some other letter after it. To get only a single tilde you are forced to enter it twice and then delete the second one.

Someone should design a keyboard for programmers where all the special keys are easy to reach and can be entered with a single keystroke.


For some unknown reason my RSS reader has some difficulties reading this post and listing it. I am using “iGoogle” RSS gadget with the last three entries listed. And this lastest one just doesn’t appear. It was even weirder earlier today because then the list was just toootally corrupted.

I guess iGoogle RSS gadget doesn’t like all those strange characters. Maybe one of those is improperly escaped by the gadget.


Paul, I’m sure I’ve heard “french” brackets/braces for {} on occasion. I can’t say where or when, but it’s familiar.

Googling for either of

  • “french braces” programming


  • “french brackets” programming

turns up a scattering of hits, so at least we’re not nuts.




back tick for ` is heavily used here.

tic-tac-to for # has been used as well.

both cases by the non-programmers


Has anyone else ever heard { or } called a “Hitchcock”? I have heard that a few times.


wow, what a worthless post.


@Nathan: Great example of what I suggest should be avoided: shift+6 on a US keyboard might give a ^ (carat, up-arrow), but on mine (Swedish) you’d get a .

@Yves: ‘Circumflex’ is indeed English for the French ‘circonflex’.

And there are plenty of examples above of how confusing it can be to describe a character by its function in a specific language, unless you’re absolutely certain that the listener understands that particular context.

By the way, no one has mentioned the (shift+4 on a Swedish keyboard), which I have heard described as a general currency symbol, but no brief or amusing name yet…


New Zealand newsreaders used to have an annoying habit of calling double quotation marks “inverted commas”.

Not sure if they still do it, since I refuse to watch the news here anymore.


@Jim – yeah, well, octothorpe you, man!