Miscellany № 48: a historical section

A true miscellany for your perusal this week! On with the show.


First, a punctuation story that self-destructed almost as soon as it appeared. In mid-April, Levi Stahl, a publicity manager at the University of Chicago Press, posted to his blog about “The first emoticon?”. Stahl had come across a familiar-looking pairing of ‘:)’ in a 1648 edition of a poem by Robert Herrick. The lines in question went as follows:

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Miscellany № 40: Emoji Dick and the ANGRY Full Stop

With Winterval approaching, and bearing in mind the concomitant need to find gifts for our nearest and dearest, may I present a gift that I would dearly love to receive: Emoji Dick; or 🐳. This is, as editor Fred Benenson explains, “a crowd sourced and crowd funded translation of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick into Japanese emoticons called emoji”; Shady Characters readers will be well aware of the general concept of emoticons, of course, and emoji are effectively an expanded set of such symbols composed of graphical images rather than typographic marks.

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Miscellany № 37: welcome to :Düsseldorf

[Could not find the bibliography file(s)

I must apologise for the radio silence this past weekend; my wife and I were visiting Düsseldorf in Germany for a few days of archaeological sightseeing, museum going, and tasting of regional beers. One thing caught my eye as soon as we arrived, as you can see above: the city’s new logo, designed by advertising agency BBDO, could be seen from the airport to the Altstadt. The Local reports that BBDO head Frank Loetze said: “We wanted an over-arching symbol which exudes the feeling of living in the city — the grinning D is concise and appealing. And we decided on red and white as they are the colours of the city.”[?]

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Back in business

Thank you for bearing with me for the past few weeks! My wife and I got back from our honeymoon last weekend, and normal service can resume now that the jet lag has more or less dissipated.

The picture above, in case you’re wondering, was taken in a Hong Kong restaurant when I realised that a HK$100 note with which we were about to pay bore what looked almost like a double-decker emoticon at the bottom left. I snapped a photograph with my phone, we paid for our meal, and I thought no more about it until now. A quick check of Wikipedia this afternoon took me to this site, which shows both the front and back of this series of note, and the mystery was solved. What looks like :·)·) — a sort of bearded smiley — is, in fact, the number “100”, with half of each digit displayed on the front of the note and the other half on the back. Holding it up to the light would have cleared things up right away.

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