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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Miscellany № 21

Mental Floss recently published a primer on the many and varied uses of the em (—) and en dashes (–), including a mention of my personal favourite, the “compound adjective hyphen”. This is the case where a compound term such as “Pulitzer Prize” is joined to another term not with a hyphen but instead an assertive en dash to yield, for instance, “Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist”. And if your interest is piqued by Mental Floss’s brief treatment of the usage of the dash, then hopefully the chapter on its history in the upcoming Shady Characters book will be worth waiting for!

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Miscellany № 18

The interrobang is in the ascendant this week. Richard Polt, a professor of philosophy at Xavier University, Ohio, is also a vintage typewriter buff who has helped me a number of times with regard to keyboards, typewriter models and such like. Back in 2011, Richard contributed this great image of a piano-like, 1889 Hammond to my article on The @-symbol, part 2 of 2; now, though, he has outdone himself handsomely with an amazing find. Witness the interrobang in print on the cover of Agent, Action, and Reason (1971) edited by Robert William Binkley et al.1

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