Names for brackets (was: Extension of Tourette's)

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Mon Apr 7 17:17:55 UTC 2008

At 4/7/2008 10:00 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>...  I call them curly
>brackets because back in the late 60s and early 70s, when they were
>the topic of lively theoretical disputes over whether their use (as a
>way to collapse inputs to phonological and syntactic rules) should be
>banned because (in J. D. McCawley's view) the disjunction represented
>an acknowledgment that a significant generalization was being missed,
>everyone called them curly brackets.  There were also angled brackets
>on the palette back then, for coordinated elements in a rule.  Now
>that fewer rules are being written, and the theoretical import of
>notational conventions has faded away, the younger generations can
>decide what to call {}s on their own...

The young, illiterate whipper-snappers who named characters for the
standards on coded character sets for computing named {} right and
left curly bracket.  (There were also lively debates over whether
they were important enough to include in the 95 characters of 7-bit
ASCII, or less important than, for example, including both opening
and closing quotation marks.)  See ISO 8859.1 (Latin Alphabet One),
MS Word's Insert Symbol window, and Unicode Basic Latin.  They also
called [] left and right square bracket.  An impoverished vocabulary
-- although it does include for () "parenthesis".


The American Dialect Society -

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