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.
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.”1
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.
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!
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