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Special characters

Modern keyboards are equipped with a variety of special characters that can be used to add emphasis, punctuation, and other special effects to text. These characters can be accessed in a variety of ways, depending on the keyboard layout and operating system.

Types of special characters

There are many different types of special characters that can be used on modern keyboards. Some of the most common types include:

  • Punctuation marks: These characters are used to mark the end of sentences, clauses, and phrases. Some common punctuation marks include periods, commas, semicolons, and question marks.
  • Symbols: These characters are used to represent ideas or concepts. Some common symbols include mathematical symbols, currency symbols, and musical symbols.
  • Accents: These characters are used to modify the pronunciation of letters. Some common accents include acute accents, grave accents, and tildes.
  • Ligatures: These characters are formed by combining two or more letters. Some common ligatures include æ, œ, and ß.

List of special characters

Here is a list of some of the most common special characters that can be used on modern keyboards:

  • Punctuation marks: . , ; ? ! : ” ‘
  • Symbols: + – * / = @ # $ % ^ & _ { } | ~
  • Accents: ` ´ ¨ ˆ ˜ ¯
  • Ligatures: æ œ ß

The origin.

Punctuation marks

  • . (period): The period is thought to have originated in ancient Egypt, where it was used as a decimal point.
  • , (comma): The comma is thought to have originated in ancient Greece, where it was used to separate clauses in a sentence.
  • ; (semicolon): The semicolon is thought to have originated in ancient Rome, where it was used to separate independent clauses in a sentence.
  • ? (question mark): The question mark is thought to have originated in ancient Greece, where it was used to indicate a question.
  • ! (exclamation mark): The exclamation mark is thought to have originated in ancient Rome, where it was used to indicate surprise or emphasis.
  • : (colon): The colon is thought to have originated in ancient Greece, where it was used to introduce a list or quotation.
  •  (quotation marks): The quotation marks are thought to have originated in ancient Greece, where they were used to indicate a direct quotation.
  •  (apostrophe): The apostrophe is thought to have originated in ancient Rome, where it was used to indicate a contraction or possession.

Symbols

  • + (plus sign): The plus sign is thought to have originated in ancient Egypt, where it was used as a shorthand for the word “and.”
  •  (minus sign): The minus sign is thought to have originated in ancient Rome, where it was used to indicate subtraction.
  • * (asterisk): The asterisk is thought to have originated in ancient Greece, where it was used as a shorthand for the word “star.”
  • / (division sign): The division sign is thought to have originated in ancient Babylonia, where it was used to indicate division.
  • = (equals sign): The equals sign is thought to have originated in ancient Greece, where it was used to indicate equality.
  • @ (at sign): The at sign is thought to have originated in the 16th century, when it was used as a shorthand for the word “at.”
  • # (number sign): The number sign is thought to have originated in ancient Rome, where it was used as a shorthand for the word “number.”
  • $ (dollar sign): The dollar sign is thought to have originated in the 17th century, when it was used to indicate Spanish currency.
  • % (percent sign): The percent sign is thought to have originated in the 18th century, when it was used to indicate a percentage.
  • ^ (caret): The caret is thought to have originated in the 15th century, when it was used as a shorthand for the word “superscript.”
  • & (ampersand): The ampersand is thought to have originated in ancient Rome, where it was used as a shorthand for the word “and.”
  • _ (underscore): The underscore is thought to have originated in the 19th century, when it was used as a shorthand for the word “underline.”
  • { (curly brace): The curly brace is thought to have originated in the 16th century, when it was used as a shorthand for the word “brace.”
  • } (curly brace): The curly brace is thought to have originated in the 16th century, when it was used as a shorthand for the word “brace.”
  • | (vertical bar): The vertical bar is thought to have originated in ancient Rome, where it was used as a shorthand for the word “or.”
  • ~ (tilde): The tilde is thought to have originated in Spain, where it was used as a shorthand for the word “approximately.”

Accents

  • ` (grave accent): The grave accent is thought to have originated in ancient Greece, where it was used to indicate a low tone.
  • ´ (acute accent): The acute accent is thought to have originated in ancient Rome, where it was used to indicate a high tone.
  • ¨ (umlaut): The umlaut is thought to have originated in Germany, where it was used to indicate a vowel sound that is pronounced with a rounded lip.
  • ˆ (circumflex): The circumflex is thought to have originated in France, where it was used to indicate a vowel sound that is pronounced with a rising tone.
  • ˜ (tilde): The tilde is thought to have originated in Spain, where it was used as a shorthand for the word “approximately.”
  • ¯ (macron): The macron is thought to have originated in ancient Greece, where it was used to indicate a long vowel sound.

Ligatures

  • æ (ae): The ligature æ is thought to have originated in the 10th century, when it was used to represent the sound of the two vowels “a” and “e” combined.
  • œ (oe): The ligature œ is thought to have originated in the 11th century, when it was used to represent the sound of the two vowels “o” and “e” combined.
  • ß (eszett): The ligature ß is thought to have originated in the 13th century, when it was used to represent the sound of the two consonants “s” and “z” combined.

The use of ligatures has declined in recent years, as modern keyboards do not typically include them. However, they are still used in some languages, such as Danish, Norwegian, and German.

Here are some additional information about the ligatures you mentioned:

  • The ligature æ is used in Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish. It is pronounced as the sound of the two vowels “a” and “e” combined.
  • The ligature œ is used in Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish. It is pronounced as the sound of the two vowels “o” and “e” combined.
  • The ligature ß is used in German. It is pronounced as the sound of the two consonants “s” and “z” combined.

This is just a small selection of the many special characters that are available on modern keyboards. For a more complete list, you can consult the Character Map utility or a reference book on typography.

Conclusion

Special characters can be a valuable tool for adding emphasis, punctuation, and other special effects to text. By understanding how to access and use special characters, you can improve the readability and impact of your writing.