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Is # Culturally Insensitive, or at least Locale Unfriendly?

 
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I was mulling over the fact that kids nowadays never call the # symbol "Pound Symbol" anymore.
It's hash-hash-hash/hashtag.

I believe at least 9600 out of the first 10000 times I heard anyone say it aloud, or said it myself, it was Uniformly referred to as "The Pound Sign".

For many years, I believed the reason that we called it that was because (in ASCII) it was at the same position on the keyboard as the £ and we were calling it the same name as Brits because it was in the same spot on the keyboard (not a joke, I thought that for decades).

Once in a while, by the end of the 80's, someone would call it the "Number Sign" and doing so much work in C, I tried saying "Number Sign Include" or "Number Sign Pragma" and that was about as comfortable as holding a handful of worms.  I totally went back to only ever saying "Pound Sign" (simply "Pound" in "Pound Include" or "Pound Pragma").

Now all the kids just say "Hash" or "HashTag", I still want to say "Pound Sign" but even "Number Sign" feels less alien than "Hash", as despite always pronouncing the symbol name as "Pound Sign" I would extremely frequently write "Number" as # in handwriting, printing and typing.

I think I still think of the actual £ itself as 0x96 (from Atari ST usage), rather than the 0xA3 that Unicode standardized on.

So the reason it was called the "Pound Sign" was NOT what I thought:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Number_sign

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pound_sign

But now I am wondering, despite HTML being positively LOUSY with it, is it hard to type on some very commonly used keyboards?
Is there a good reason that Java shuns it, maybe a very good one?
Are C and HTML culturally insensitive for using it so dang much?

And how do most CodeRanchers pronounce it when speaking aloud?
 
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Well of course Wikipedia has a comprehensive article.

I could never understand why "pound sign" was used for the # character until I learned that it was at some point in time used to abbreviate a pound of weight; I had never seen that in use and even during the years when I worked for an American wholesaler I don't recall seeing it in the item table. So it was just baffling to me. However I see from Wikipedia that Canadians normally call it "number sign", which is what I do. And I regularly see it used in that way, typically like "the #14 bus".

However since I learned music before I learned programming I still can't help thinking of it as "sharp" as in "F# major". But programmers get confused by that so I don't use "sharp" for the # character -- although I never really used languages where it was a common occurrence anyway.

But yeah, ever since Twitter # is "hashtag" and it's clear that usage is going to dominate from now on. We just have to go along with it.

And as for Java, I don't know why # hasn't been pressed into action. Even when they put method references into the language and had a golden opportunity to use # as the separator, they decided to use :: instead. It's a mystery.
 
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I call it "hekje", which is Dutch for "little gate" or "little fence".

In English, I interchangeably use "pound" or "hash". I categorically refuse to use "hashtag", because "hashtag" means "hash" + "tag", and not just the "hash" symbol.

"Sharp", as in the music notational symbol is actually a different but similar symbol: ♯
 
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Yes, the uprights in the sharp sign are vertical and the uprights in the hash sign incline slightlyto the right.
 
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Does anyone but me still call it the octothorpe?
 
Jesse Silverman
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fred rosenberger wrote:Does anyone but me still call it the octothorpe?



I did for a while (tho I never PRONOUNCED it that way when reading C code aloud or dictating it).
Rumor was that this name was a joke, I believed that the rumor that it was a joke was itself a joke, but no longer believe THAT.

It was probably indeed a joke, demonstrating our professions love of whimsy and contrariness:

Most scholars believe the word was invented by workers at the Bell Telephone Laboratories by 1968,[32] who needed a word for the symbol on the telephone keypad. Don MacPherson is said to have created the word by combining octo and the last name of Jim Thorpe, an Olympic medalist.[33] Howard Eby and Lauren Asplund claim to have invented the word as a joke in 1964, combining octo with the syllable therp which, because of the "th" digraph, was hard to pronounce in different languages.[34] The Merriam-Webster New Book of Word Histories, 1991, has a long article that is consistent with Doug Kerr's essay,[34] which says "octotherp" was the original spelling, and that the word arose in the 1960s among telephone engineers as a joke.

 
Jesse Silverman
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There was a second part (unfortunately practical, so possibly off-topic for MD):

Is it difficult to type on any commonly used keyboards, providing a legitimate reason to avoid it as a character to be Typed Lots and Lots?
 
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I just did a quick check since I didn't recall this being a problem, and no, none of the major keyboards lack the octothorpe. I can't say in the case of Oriental keyboards, but Arabic/Farsi, Cyryllic, Devanagari, Latin, etc. all routinely have it and they consistently assign it to SHIFT+3.

Its name should probably be a clue - pretty much all of the popular glyphs have multiple names.

IBM once had typesets for their mechanical mainframe printers that were stripped to the 48 most essential characters to make them able to print faster. Even there you'd find a pound sign. No underscore, though. In fact, I think not even parentheses. Fun times.

For Jesse's benefit, the charcter sometimes knows as tic-tac-toe or pig-pen, is, as mentioned the "pound weight" character, whereas £ is "pound sterling" or "currency symbol". Currency symbol having a different glyph of course, depending on whether you're talking pounds, dollars, yen, or whatever.

The term "hashtag" comes from the fact that one of the more popular nicknames is "hash". The "tag" part is actually the text following the #hash. So saying "hashtag" character is like saying "hot water heater".
 
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