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  #1  
Old 01-21-2004, 06:15 AM
Art Barber Art Barber is offline
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Usage of "&" to mean "and" disappeared. Why?

In looking at 18th century American writing, you notice a lot of differences in vocabulary, grammar, and character formation that we no longer use. For one, the usage of that weird "s" in the middle of words that looks like an "f". Fine. It was a stupid idea, so it's good that it died out.

However, one thing has always puzzled me. Writers back then used the character "&" to mean "and". Howcum? And howcum this usage died out? I mean, you might use it in, say, a company name like "Smith & Jones", but big-time usage has died out...You never see "We went to the movies & had a nice time". What's up with that?

Art
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  #2  
Old 01-21-2004, 06:32 AM
croakdale croakdale is offline
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the character is called an ampersand.
googling i found this:
http://www.melbpc.org.au/pcupdate/2008/2008article5.htm

It still seems to be in use on this side of the atlantic, although not that common any more.
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Old 01-21-2004, 06:42 AM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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In the 18th century, all type was set by hand. The use of &, №, and lots of abbreviations sped up the process of setting the type for broadsheets, newspapers, pamphlets, and books. People who wrote in longhand often copied the style tht they were used to reading from printed texts.

With the invention of the mechanical typesetters, such as linotype, which allowed the setting of a character with the strike of a keystroke, the "need" for such shortcuts was reduced and the style swung away from abbreviations and toward fully expanded words. (Ironically, a change in the approach toward headline usage worked in the opposite direction. Originally, newpapers summarized their stories in a series of descending font sizes, with each summary providing more detail in smaller type. Then someone figured that a single bold headline would capture the attention of more readers (a serious consideration in the day when many cities had multiple newspapers competing for readership on open newsstands). They changed the format to give each story a single bold headline that needed to be as short and snappy as possible, so the format changed to one of slang terms and abbreviations in the headlines at about the same time that the stories were beginning to use extended spelling.
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Old 01-21-2004, 07:11 AM
Rayne Man Rayne Man is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by croakdale
the character is called an ampersand.
googling i found this:
http://www.melbpc.org.au/pcupdate/2008/2008article5.htm

It still seems to be in use on this side of the atlantic, although not that common any more.
Do you get this character on your keyboard?. We do in the UK ; it appears above 7 on the number keys .
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  #5  
Old 01-21-2004, 07:57 AM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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The ampersand is still used in many applications. I don't think the OP was asking why it had disappeared completely (which it has not) but why it does not often appear in the body of standard text, such as in newspaper articles, novels, and essays.

The current symbols found on most U.S. (PC?) keyboards are (showing the shift value above the non-shift key):
Code:
~ ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _ +
` 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 - =
                       { } |
                       [ ] \
Really old U.S. manual typewriters had the U.S. above the 6, and had no exclamation point (or numeral 1--we used the lower case l which always came in a serif font). There were no tildes, grave accents, braces, or brackets, either. (We made the exclamation point by typing a single quote, then backspacing and typing a period on the same character space.) Of course, different manufacturers placed different characters on different keys throughout the 100 years of pre-IBM Selectric typewriters, so other combinations are possible.
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  #6  
Old 01-21-2004, 09:03 AM
LemonThrower LemonThrower is offline
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Another question might be why the cents key "" disappeared form keyboards. Inflation I guess.
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  #7  
Old 01-21-2004, 09:17 AM
Ponder Stibbons Ponder Stibbons is offline
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That's a good question about "". Inflation may well be the answer. I would guess that once upon a time giving ones 2 worth (as in an opinion) really meant something, whereas nowadays it means something along the lines of "here's my opinion but it's not really worth much so don't pay too much attention to me".

Or at least, that's my $0.02 worth ...
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  #8  
Old 01-21-2004, 09:37 AM
Patty O'Furniture Patty O'Furniture is offline
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It depends on what you're reading. Symbols like this (including numbers) are a kind of shorthand and may not always be appropriate in formal writing. I use them all the time in notes to myself, places where space is an issue, & places where style doesn't matter

I would just as quickly use other symbols in place of words as long as I knew my writing style wasn't going to be judged by the reader. Regard:

6 laptops @ $2000 (as opposed to) Six laptops at two thousand dollars each.

Left message for customer with telephone & incident #'s.

Thirty-seven percent as opposed to 37%.

And so on.
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  #9  
Old 01-21-2004, 12:27 PM
dwc1970 dwc1970 is offline
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I read somewhere (probably on this very board) that the cents sign lost out to the caret symbol when computers came into being because programmers needed this character more than the cents sign.

I'd also like to add that the older U.S. typewriters did not have a zero key, either. This was merely substituted with the letter O. My dad still has an old Underwood typewriter with no 0 or 1 key.
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  #10  
Old 01-21-2004, 12:39 PM
Ike Witt Ike Witt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Art Barber
For one, the usage of that weird "s" in the middle of words that looks like an "f". Fine. It was a stupid idea, so it's good that it died out.
I can't let this slide. Why was it a stupid idea? Stupid because it isn't something that you are used too, or is there another reason? There also used to be a letter that was essentially a combination of 'T' and 'H', but we don't see that anymore even though I would not call it a stupid idea, in fact I think that it is a pretty good idea. Language, both spoken and writen, are in a constant state of change.
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Old 01-21-2004, 01:23 PM
UncleBeer UncleBeer is offline
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Quote:
For one, the usage of that weird "s" in the middle of words that looks like an "f". Fine. It was a stupid idea, so it's good that it died out.
I'm pretty sure that Cecil did a column on the long 's', or , but I'll be damned if I can tease it outta the search engine.
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Old 01-21-2004, 01:50 PM
Ike Witt Ike Witt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleBeer
I'm pretty sure that Cecil did a column on the long 's', or , but I'll be damned if I can tease it outta the search engine.
Here is the column: Why did 18th-century writers use F inftead of S? .

I swear, sometimes I don't know why they pay you moderators...
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  #13  
Old 01-21-2004, 02:33 PM
BobT BobT is offline
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In one of the databases I use at work, we have to type "&" instead of "and" when we are attempting a search using Boolean logic.
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  #14  
Old 01-21-2004, 04:35 PM
august9 august9 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Art Barber
However, one thing has always puzzled me. Writers back then used the character "&" to mean "and". Howcum?
"&" is symbolic shorthand for "et", which means "and" in latin. According to Adobe it's about 2000 years old.
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  #15  
Old 01-21-2004, 07:32 PM
boofy_bloke boofy_bloke is offline
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In the old days one could also use &c for et cetera aka etc. aka and so on.

OT Why is it "A penny for your thoughts" but "My two cents"?
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  #16  
Old 01-21-2004, 07:52 PM
Nanoda Nanoda is offline
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Attrayant got it, for my money. Nobody ever uses & in actual sentences, it's used for shorthand. Slightly more formal than @ for at, less so than # for number.

It's used all the time in computing to mean "and", especially if you do any bit operations in C.
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  #17  
Old 01-21-2004, 08:10 PM
Freiheit Freiheit is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Art Barber
However, one thing has always puzzled me. Writers back then used the character "&" to mean "and". Howcum? And howcum this usage died out? I mean, you might use it in, say, a company name like "Smith & Jones", but big-time usage has died out...You never see "We went to the movies & had a nice time". What's up with that?
The history of the roman alphabet and of typography is one of the few subjects I'm somewhat useful in, but it seems that most matters in here have been concisely dealt with.

The ampersand has had an interesting history, and appears in many forms. The form I'm filling in right now has a different form of the & than in the general text of this page. The one right here looks much like an eight with two appendages. The one in the text looks much closer to its origin in latin Et. As tomndebb said, closer to the age of Johann Gutenberg, space was filled (paper was expensive) by using ligatures. Wait--does the ampersand count as a ligature, or does it only refer to those such and fl, fi, &c seen in books? For whatever reason, the & still hangs around.

It's definately not disappeared. I see it often in hand-written notes, often in the form of a rounded, crossed E. Usually, I will simply use the + sign. Am I wrong, or is this more common in Germany? This movie came to mind.

Adam Yax, I believe the character you're thinking of is the thorn: I hope it doesn't only show up on my computer.

Speaking of which, tomndebb: I can't see that symbol after your &.
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  #18  
Old 01-21-2004, 08:49 PM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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I can't see it now, either. It is (was) the abbreviation "No" with the o raised in superscript and underlined. It worked in Preview, but failed on post. I used it as an example of the 18th century habit of posting many common specialty words in that format (underscored superscripts). (For those who are interested, it is Unicode 2116.)
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Old 01-22-2004, 01:56 AM
wolf_meister wolf_meister is offline
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The ampersand as displayed on this Message Board appears as & - which is a somewhat uncommon style (at least to me). For a moment, I thought this thread was about some character other than the ampersand.
A quick look through a font list www.1728.com/fontlttr.htm shows that this is the Trebuchet font for the ampersand.
& - Trebuchet

& - Arial Font

The latter is the ampersand in a style with which we are more familiar. It is the style that is used on the actual '7' key on typewriter and computer keyboards.
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Old 01-22-2004, 02:22 AM
moriah moriah is offline
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In my twenty odd years of schooling, when I would be taking notes, I would often borrow words from other languages if the word was shorter than its English equivalent. I routinely used 'et' for 'and' until I learned Spanish, and then I used 'y'.

pax
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  #21  
Old 01-22-2004, 02:35 AM
Achernar Achernar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolf_meister
The ampersand as displayed on this Message Board appears as & - which is a somewhat uncommon style (at least to me).
Of course, to me what you wrote here appears almost exactly like it does on my keyboard, and not at all like Trebuchet. I think font settings might have something to do with it.
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  #22  
Old 01-22-2004, 02:56 AM
Tikki Tikki is offline
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Art Barber says, "However, one thing has always puzzled me. Writers back then used the character "&" to mean "and". Howcum? And howcum this usage died out? I mean, you might use it in, say, a company name like "Smith & Jones", but big-time usage has died out...You never see "We went to the movies & had a nice time". What's up with that?"

I'd just like to point out that the grammatically correct usage of the '&' is for titles only. Thus, 'Smith & Jones Office Supply' would be correct but 'We went to the movies & had a nice time' is not. When used in a sentence, one should always use 'and'. 'Smith and Jones went to the movies and had a nice time" is also correct.

::So ends Tikki's little lesson of the day::
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  #23  
Old 01-22-2004, 04:13 AM
Alessan Alessan is online now
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Open your nearest newspaper to the classified section and you'll see hundreds, if not thousands of ampersands. They're useful when you're being charged $42 per line for a Help Wanted ad.
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  #24  
Old 01-22-2004, 06:55 AM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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Quote:
the grammatically correct usage of the '&' is for titles only
I suspect that you meant stylistically correct rather than grammatically correct, (which was, in fact, the point of the OP).

200 years ago we find a significant number of publications and (formal) handwritten documents that employed the ampersand and other abbreviations and ligatures. Now we do not find them in formal texts. The grammar has not changed, only the accepted style of presentation.
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