Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Ampersand

There is a new Pride and Prejudice movie out, titled 'Pride & Prejudice.' I haven't seen it yet. (Oops, I think it opens tomorrow?) Just one more thing to add to the list. I wouldn't mind checking out the costumes though and the real estate. However, I was curious to see how the ampersand is faring on the internet.

On the first page of Google results, only 3 out of ten sites use the ampersand in the movie title. The other sites talked about the movie Pride and Prejudice.

Here are the results.

Pride & Prejudice - Tucson Citizen, New York Daily News, SheKnows

Pride and Prejudice - San Francisco Bay Guardian, New Yorker, Stuff.co.nz, Monsters and Critics, Rolling Stone, Globe and Mail, Cinematical

On the second page only two out of ten used the ampersand and so on.

The ampersand is not hard to find, right up there in the middle above the 7, so what was so difficult about that? I found it myself without asking for help!

I can, however, being so cynical, think of about ten reasons why one might not use the ampersand. You think it is a lazy shortcut, a handwritten shorthand symbol that does not relate to printed text, an everyday equivalent of 'and'. Or maybe the person at the keyboard is processing phonetically, lexically, or kinesthetically, and not visually. Maybe the typist is making a grammar correction along the lines of 'In this context the ampersand really should not be used.'

But didn't someone make a big fuss about this being a distinguishing feature of the movie title? Who said what exactly on the subject of the ampersand?

Later:

I have been completely sidetracked by now because I have just discovered HTML Ampersand Character Codes. This is a site that explains how you can keyboard unusual characters in html that do not appear on your keyboard, using the ampersand and the name of the character (from the chart, of course).

I can now enter æ þ ¿ ¡ which I have never missed - as well as some I find it ridiculous to live without - ¢ ° ¹ ² . My keyboard has dollars but not cents.

The one that has me totally puzzled is the code for ampersand itself. Would someone please tell me what use it is to know how to enter ampersand in code, which requires the ampersand, unless you have the ampersand, in which case you don't need to enter it in code?

Thanks to my sister Liz for alerting me to the use of the ampersand in the movie title Pride & Prejudice. Fortunately this blog is about writing systems and not movies because I haven't checked out any details on the Pride & Prejudice movie yet. But then I can't afford the real estate.

Endnote:

Now I only need to know the sequence which would enable me to write about these codes without invoking them if you like. Off to a tech site for me.

Update:

Thanks to help from commenters I was able to open the HTML Ampersand character code page and using view:source, I was able to see how the code is written in order to display the code to write these characters. So " for " and þ for þ and so on. I also found out the use of the code for ampersand since it is essential to write these codes for display. Not that I can explain this properly but it does work if I just copy from the code displayed when I open source and don't think about it too much.

Of course, none of this works in the blogger comment page itself.

6 Comments:

Blogger Denis said...

The reason why there is an HTML code for "&" is because it is itself a special character in HTML. For example "&" is "&" (for which I had to type as "&").

Another way of displaying a character missing on your keyboard is to use its Unicode codepoint. "&" followed by "#x" and then the hexadecimal code point should render what you need.

There's one thing annoying about Blogger, it keeps converting "&" to "&" in the text I'm editing everytime I preview it. If you look at the HTML code of this page you'll see every ampersand has been replaced by its HTML entity.

12:01 AM  
Anonymous Suz said...

Hi Denis,

What is the easiest way to view the html for a page?

I suppose I was joking about entering the ampersand. I have such a limited tech knowledge, there could be any numer of reasons that I would know nothing about.

But, yes, if I want to actually write about the code without having it convert - there must be some way to do that. I haven't found it yet.

12:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not Denis, but I can asnwer your first question. Your browser has an option to display the source. In my browser it is in the View menu: Page Source. (I could also just press CTRL+U.)

You can also save any page on your hard disk, and open it in a text editor or a word processor. I would recommend using a text editor that uses syntax highlighting to display the structure of HTML documents. It makes it easier for you to find what you want!

If you are using Windows, my recommendation is the free Context editor. Don't worry about it being aimed "at programmers". It is not hard to use.

You can also use a special HTML editor, but I don't recommend that yet. Even if you don't want to learn the gory details of HTML (and why should you?), you should become familiar with how HTML files look when you are not displaying them in a browser. Trust me, it makes it easier to understand these character codes and other issues! (They're after all just text files with special tags in them. HTML is just a form of mark-up.)

Here's the editor:
Context

3:04 AM  
Anonymous Mark S. said...

Another oddly styled film title is, as it is written in the ad copy, "I ♥ Huckabees."

This would seem to be simply "I Love Huckabees." But here's what Google results show about how people are writing this:
* 61,400 for "I Love Huckabees"
* 1,210,000 for "I Heart Huckabees"
* 596 for "I ♥ Huckabees"

The paucity of the last style can be attributed to the fact that most people don't know how to enter ♥ to make ♥. And maybe most people think it's silly, too. But "heart" outnumbering "love" by such a substantial margin is a surprise to me.

4:53 AM  
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