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One of the joys of the digital era is the way it creates innovations in multiple languages. The “at” sign used in email addresses—@—has, for instance, earned a delightful variety of descriptions, from being called an elephant’s trunk (snabel-a) in Danish to a spider monkey (Klammeraffe) in German or a snail (chiocciola) in Italian. The internet also abounds, however, with all manner of symbols that haven’t as yet earned popular linguistic recognition: from the “vertical pipe with a hole in it” to the “checked ballot box,” and so on. For these, a word first coined in the early 19th century…

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