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ASCII Pronunciation Rules for Programmers


/ uphill \ downhill


/ divide(d( by))


Conflating hyphens and dashes really bothers me. There are very few true dashes in programming contexts. They’re mostly hyphens and subtraction operators.

But I’m a writer in addition to a programmer, so I need to keep these concepts distinct.

I’ve recently been trying to figure out which ASCII symbol is most overloaded. It’s either ’ or -.


I remember “@” being called pig-tail early in my experience as a touch-typist.

I also know of “” being pronounced “lambda” because it was the available printer character for that (leading to the name Pound-Sterling-calculus).

The same functional programming Brits also enjoyed referring to bras and kets. That is, “(” is a bra, “)” is its ket. Don’t recall how (, [, and [ were differentiated.


\ downright
\ upleft
/ downleft
/ upright


I once had an IT instructor from the South who read “*” as “spuh-LAY-it”.


Reminds me of the Victor Borge ‘Phonetic punctuation’ sketch, in which he reads a story with all the commas, fullstops, dashes, etc pronounced…
Anyone else here old enough to remember that?

I work for a multinational company, so I believe it’s important to use terms understood by everyone, and also not to refer to keyboard positions.

As a multilingual programmer, I also prefer the language-neutral terms rather than ‘pointer’, ‘not’, etc.


yeh i go with back tick for `
and whack for /

and when thinking in XML, for “”, “” and “/” I use “blond”, “brunette”, “redhead”.

Aren’t “french quotes” those little chevron like characters correctly called Guillemets (or sometimes ‘duck feet’).

They’re used in ML and F# for quoting code.


I find it interesting that there are so many different names for the same symbols. I’ll definitely be paying closer attention to which terms the people around me are using. =]



Why isn’t it possible anymore to enter characters
by pressing “Alt GR” and the numeric ASCII code into
the numpad?
Was that a feature of good old MS-DOS or of old keyboards?

So instead of saying “backslash” you say “Alt-GR 134” (octal)
or “Alt-Gr 92” (decimal).

(Can anyone remember if this system was decimal
or octal based?).



WOW! The splat ("*")…

I was sure close.
When I cut my eye-teeth on a teletype terminal, I called it SPLOT.
…that’s what it sounded like to me :slight_smile:


I just use the ASCII values instead of names. Saves time and reduces ambiguity. Doesn’t everybody do that? :stuck_out_tongue:


Inspiring. I will now only refer to quotes as “dirks”. :slight_smile: (Two spot - wane)


My colleagues use “drop” for \ and /. I soooo hate that :slight_smile:

Erik: it still works, with both Alt keys (well, not in some keyboard layouts). And it’s decimal.


Good topic. And fundamental to communicating programming syntax.

In conversations, we were always mixing up - [] {}. We came to this resolution: brackets have hard corners [], thus the hard “k” sound. Braces have round corners {}, thus the soft sound.

Although, that doesn’t seem to be the end of it:

I thought the math/engineering discipline would help, but at www.wolfram.com (makers of Mathematica):

“The rules for using brackets are just as simple. Arguments to Mathematica functions are always enclosed in square brackets [ ]. Lists, matrices, and arrays are always enclosed in curly brackets { }. Matrices and arrays are implemented simply as lists of lists.”

Although the Open Standards Group glossary at

The characters “{” (left brace) and “}” (right brace), also known as curly braces. When used in the phrase “enclosed in (curly) braces” the symbol “{” immediately precedes the object to be enclosed, and “}” immediately follows it. When describing these characters in the portable character set, the names left-brace and right-brace are used.

The characters “[” (left-bracket) and “]” (right-bracket), also known as square brackets. When used in the phrase “enclosed in (square) brackets” the symbol “[” immediately precedes the object to be enclosed, and “]” immediately follows it. When describing these characters in the portable character set, the names left-square-bracket and right-square-bracket are used.


I’ve usually heard the accent grave ` mark pronounced “thorn”.


“Pound Bang User Bin Bash.”

“Whack Whack Host Whack Share Whack Folder Whack Program Dot Bat.”

In the office, I sometimes get strange looks from passers by when talking with my fellows.


~ is clearly a cornflake, that’s what I always call it!


The “@” sign is sometimes called “monkey tail” (“coada de maimuta”) in Romanian.


in mexico we call

= “gato” like cat its the same as tic-tac-toe,

@ = arroba

  • = asterisco
    $ = pesos
    M$ = u know
    | = pipe
    ~ = tilde
    Tis one i dont know ^, i call it the “techo” (cieling) like in a house