Saturday, November 24, 2012


Meaning: the forward slash, or /.

Usefulness: 1 (Mainly to intimidate others with your vocabulary. I am saddened that it isn't used more when people give the long form of web addresses. "H. T. T. P. Colon. Virgule. Virgule. W" etc. Would also be a better name for slash fiction - virgule fiction sounds slightly classier, while remaining suggestive.)

Logofascination: 1 (It was once used the way we use the comma, and in Latin it was called the 'little twig', or virgula. The Latin form came into English first, but was mostly replaced when the current form came in via French.)

In the wild: In a sublimely surreal guide to punctuation over at McSweeney's. A small sample:
Ampersand. Great for loud parties on the beach. Use often, especially if you are under 47 and intend to kick that crippling cocaine habit. Does not grant wishes. Looks best in lipstick and serif fonts.

Degrees: 2

Connections: virgule - vergette

Which is used in: G&P, Second Book, XVIII: How a great scholar of England would have argued against Pantagruel, and was overcome by Panurge.  Panurge volunteered to take the scholar on in debate, and as preparation
... spent the night with tippling amongst the pages, and played away all the points of his breeches at primus secundus and at peck point, in French called La Vergette
Vergette is also something like little twig (the French had virgule already, for the punctuation mark) - Cotgrave defines this game as "a boyes play with rods or wands pecked at a heape of points". The 'points of his breeches' were the cords or knots used to tie the breeches, so this game is perhaps something involving sticks and string. I've found different opinions on what game primus secundus is. The OED suggests pushpin, and Frame pick-up-sticks - the second seems the more likely, given the description of La Vergette.

No comments:

Post a Comment