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ASCII Pronunciation Rules for Programmers


I call ‘’ or ‘’ as ‘waka waka.’ i think i first saw that on hak.5


On a Univac 1108 mainframe circa 1972, the two character key combination $! typed at the operator’s console caused an instant halt of the entire system. This was referred to as a “dollar-bang” and could be used as a noun or a verb. Also, some Univac system analysts at the time often spoke of * as “dead fly”.


I don’t know where the idea that ` being called a backtick is “rare” came from. The entire perl community calls that a backtick, as does the official documentation. I would say that’s one of the most common names, since I’ve never heard it called anything else.

Though I haven’t been a native French speaker for 30 years, I would swear we called that (essential) part of French writing the “circonflex”.

Nnn… nope, linguistically that’s the correct name for it. Welcome to unfortunate language drift :wink:


= ‘equals’
== ‘is’
!= ‘is not’ or ‘not equals’
= ‘fat comma’ (in perl, this is interchangeable with the simple comma, except that it has higher precedence)

In the UK:-

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

Wrong, wrong, a thousand times wrong. These terminologies only stem from the systematic extraction of knowledge from the populace by government education schemes. These () have always been parentheses (from Greek parens, around, thesis, idea); these [] have always been brackets; these {} have always been braces (although the brace has seen a much bigger rise in usage since the computer, as they were originally mainly used on paper to group several lines, and as such were rarely seen as a single character on a single line).

In fact, calling a comma a cedilla is also wrong. What’s going on there? The two look completely different. And while I’m ranting, why isn’t “question” listed for “question mark” if “at” is listed for “at sign”? And I’ve heard these called chevrons before…


I agree with your list on most of the characters. However, I come from the Netherlands, and almost any (programmer) I know calls the $ a “string”, not a dollar sign.

Other characters in Dutch:
^ Dakje (roof)

Hekje (fence)

@ Apenstaartje (monkey tail - though almost any programmer will say “at”)
_ Liggend streepje (lying bar)
/ and : schuine streep (slanted line) - however my typing teacher called it a “schrap” which means as much as “delete” (Scrhap and left schrap)

By the way, you must be very food-centered with your Crunch (#), Pretzel (), grapes (%) and the strudel (@).

Also, I agree that most people don’t know the correct name for the tilde (~)


You left out “reverse solidus” for the “backslash”, the Unicode nomenclature for the character.


In Romanian language the @ sign is often called “a-rond” or monkeytail.

Also I was much amused to hear the # sign being called “the prison sign” :))


being from Argentina, I can tell you how we call those symbols in spanish:
! = “admiracin”
" = “comillas”

= “numeral”

$ = “pesos”
% = “por ciento”
= “and, or ampersand” ( this one seems not to have a spanish translation )
’ = “apstrofe”
() = “parntesis”
[] = “corchetes”
{} = “llaves”
= “menor, mayor”

  • = “asterisco”
  • = “guin, or menos”
    _ = “guin bajo”
    / = “barra”
    \ = “barra invertida, or contrabarra”
    : = “dos puntos”
    ; = “punto y coma”
    ? = “pregunta”
    @ = “arroba”
    | = “pipe” ( correctly pronounced in english)
    ` = “comillas” (which causes confusion with the other “comillas”)
    ~ = “uflo”

Just thougth it was funny to share.

Some of the house-translations we make here are pretty weird, also. For example, as Linux users, me and my colleages call the ` as “comillas de ejecucin” (execution quote).


In spanish @ is also calles ‘ensaimada’ : http://images.google.com/images?q=ensaimadaie=UTF-8oe=utf-8rls=org.mozilla:es-ES:officialclient=firefox-aum=1sa=Ntab=wi


Hash (#) is also commonly known as Gate… well at least by the guys I know that work in Telecommunications.


In a similar vein, I knew a Mac programmer (female) who called the Command key on the Mac a “puppy paw”. I tried not to snicker when she said it out loud…


“Jesper: You mean, most English cultures. We ofcourse have our own words for all these characters in our own languages.”

Ofcourse that was more about the pronunciation rules we have learnt for them while learning english. And I think that “international” use is a better measure to learn common pronunciation for these words, rather than letting the brits and the americans argue about it. :slight_smile:

So here’s a list as I have learnt these from browsing through the great internet:
~ : Tilde
@ : At-sign
. : Dot or period. Never heard of “full stop” before.
! : Exclamation mark. Again, never heard of “bang”.

: Not sure, probably hash. Definitely not pound.

(): Parantheses
[]: Square brackets
{}: Curly braces/brackets
’ : Single quote
" : Quotation marks
_ : Underline


In the telecoms world, # is sometimes referred to as “gate”


Sorry, there’s proper ways in English to say something, and then there’s the brain damaged way.

() is parenthesis
[] is bracket
{} is curly brace
^ is caret

Follow these rules or I’ll recommend to the boss not to hire immigrants.


Biggest source of confusion that I see is that when I say “braces”, people don’t realize I mean { }. I think they seem to want to hear “curly bracket” or “curly braces”

Also, I tend to refer to an asterisk * as a “Kleene”. But I do all say star or asterisk commonly.


I’ve heard ‘~’ pronounced as squidge, especially in relation to peoples home directories, or websites.


A lot of these aren’t really alternative names, just the name of the operation which the symbol means in a particular context. For example a ‘%’ is a percentage sign or whatever slang term you want. When used in this context :

int x = a % b;

it’s called ‘modulus’ or ‘mod’. If someones uses the sentence ‘Int X equals a percentage sign b’ to describe this line of code doesn’t know what they are talking about.


Has this post been stroke full stopped yet?


Just as point of reference there are other currencies than the $ like in the UK we have the (pound) this is shown above the number 3. So using “pound key” for the # key seems like a jolly smashing idea chappy.


For the person who asked about which keyboard featured the mysterious and symbols –they seem to be standard issue on English language Mac keyboards. But I still have no idea what they are used for. I guess they would make a good delimiter, as they don’t seem to crop up much in normal usage.

As an aside, French Mac keyboards seem to have been designed with the assumption that nobody will ever try to use them to do any coding. The various flavours of brackets are tucked away in bizarre places and the pipe character seems to only be accessible via 3-key combinations that I have to look up on Google! I think I did find the backtick the other day, but I was hunting for something else at the time.


“Periods are (almost) always called full stops in Enlgand” - mike

I think it’s crazy that Wikipedia doesn’t even call it “period”! Check this out:


Wikipedia calls it “full stop”!