Mark Mandel thnidu at GMAIL.COM
Tue May 12 20:20:34 UTC 2009

On Tue, May 12, 2009 at 10:40 AM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:
> At 5/11/2009 11:26 PM, Douglas G. Wilson wrote:
> A library catalog has the same date.
> >
> >
> >Here the mark is opposed to "caret" in a list of symbols, with
> >"circumflex" appearing elsewhere in the list ... I think probably
> >indicating that the "caret" and "caron" are not necessarily diacritical
> >marks comparable to acute accent etc. Presumably the "caron" here is a
> >mark comparable to the usual "caret" (insertion mark).
> Perhaps a mark placed above the line, and also
> meaning insertion?

See #II below.

> Â Paralleling the caret, used
> below the line. Â That would support the notion
> that the name arose in typography, as some
> Googled pages suggest. Â But still no clue to the etymology?

Since the possibility is open that somebody made it up, here are a
couple of WAGs:

I:Â  The two symbols point in opposite directions. If somebody wanted a
name for "something that's the opposite of a caret", they might have
reasoned that
 1. "-et" is a diminutive suffix (in French)
 2. "-on" is an augmentative suffix (in Spanish, with an acute accent
on the "o")
 3. Therefore, the opposite of a car*et* is a car*on*.

II:Â  In proofreading, a V-shaped mark is used in various orientations
as needed; see, specifically
Insert comma
Insert apostrophe*
Insert quotation marks*
Insert ( ) points of [vertical] space
(See popup examples on mouse hover over illustrations.)Â  When used to
show an insertion high in the line of text, it points down and *might
be described as "ON" the text.

As I said, just WAGging a tale or two...

Mark Mandel

The American Dialect Society -

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