The Most Common IT Symbols

A table of some special characters. The first column after the symbol
has the one name used most often in spoken English in an IT context.

Symbol

Common name

Other names

Finnish

Comments

@

at

commerical at

miumau, at-merkki

#

number sign

hash, pound sign

risuaita, ristikkomerkki, lukumäärämerkki

avoid calling this a pound sign

/

slash

slant, diagonal, solidus, virgule, oblique, stroke

vinoviiva, kautta

( )

parenthesis

round bracket

sulkumerkki

plural: parentheses (note pronunciation)

\

backslash

reverse solidus

kenoviiva

^

caret

control, up arrow, hat, chevron, circumflex

sirkumfleksi, hattu

~

tilde

'squiggle line', 'wavy line'

aaltoviiva, aalto, mato

*

asterisk

star

tähtimerkki, asteriski

.

dot

period, point

piste

|

vertical bar

pipe, broken bar

pystyviiva

< >

angle bracket

greater than, less than, chevron

kulmasulkumerkki, kulmasulje

[ ]

square bracket

bracket

hakasulku

{ }

curly brace

brace

aaltosulku

avoid calling this a bracket

!

exclamation mark

"bang"

huutomerkki

exclamation point (Am. Eng.),

?

question mark

kysymysmerkki

%

percent sign

prosenttimerkki

+

plus sign

plusmerkki

-

hyphen

minus sign

tavuviiva, miinusmerkki

&

and sign

ampersand

sekä-merkki, ja-merkki, et-merkki

"

quotation mark

double quote

lainausmerkki, kokolainausmerkki

'

single quote

apostrophe

heittomerkki, hipsu

=

equal sign

yhtäläisyysmerkki

_

underscore

underline, horizontal bar

alaviiva

,

comma

pilkku

:

colon

kaksoispiste

;

semicolon

puolipiste

dash

ajatusviiiva, ranskalaisviiva

a dash is a little longer than a hyphen

 

Alphanumeric characters

Alphanumerical characters are the common letters and numbers, for example A-Z and 0-9. Even Finns who are very fluent in English sometimes have difficulty remembering some letters. It is worthwhile to memorize:

A E I O U W V J H Y G Z Ä

 

Keyboard keys

Common name

Other names

Finnish

enter

cr/lf (carriage return/line feed)

syöttönäppäin, kuittausnäppäin

shift

 

vaihto

tab

horizontal tabulator

sarkain

backspace

BkSp

takaisinsyöttö

spacebar

space

välilyönti

escape

esc

 

alt

alternate

opionäppäin

function keys

f-keys

 

arrow keys

cursor movement keys

 

keypad

10-key, numeric keypad

 

 

Special characters

Symbols have different names depending on how they are used. . is called dot in a web address - www.here.com, or called point in a U.S.-styled decimal number - 3.14 , or called period at the end of a sentence.

The same special character may have different names with different IT cultures. For example, a | -character might be called "pipe" in a Unix manual and "broken vertical bar" on a web page. A Perl programmer might call < > "angle brackets" while somebody else might call them "chevrons". But a "chevron" could mean the ^ -character to a third person, and be called "control character" by a Unix person, and "caret" by another, etc.

ASCII - pronounced äski - stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange, a system for reproducing common Western letters, numbers, symbols and computer control codes. It was developed in about 1965 and included 255 character codes (for example, 132 = ä, 065 = A, 007 = bel [the code for producing a 'bell' noise or warning from the computer] ). Because ASCII does not support other languages very well, national extensions to ASCII were developed, such as Latin-1 and Unicode.

The # -sign Do not call # a "pound sign" - but be prepared to hear this from people in the U.S., where # is used to mean pounds in weight. £ - is more properly a pound sign for the British monetary unit, the pound sterling. Better to call it a "number sign"; "hash" is also common.

Parenthesis / Parentheses Note that this is not the regular way to make a plural. Probably because it would be difficult to say parenthesis's. The singular form has a short i -sound (like in the word this). The plural is pronounced with a long i -sound (such as with the word please).

Brackets and Braces Do not use the word brace when referring to [ ] or < > . These are brackets, specifically [ ] square brackets and < > angle brackets. Use the word brace only for { } (this is occasionally referred to as curly braces).

Symbols that come in pairs The first parenthesis is called a left or open parenthesis and the second is called a right or close or end parenthesis. Left/right, open/close could also be used regarding brackets and braces.

Hyphen or dash? The dash sign is not well supported by many computers - you often need to used an alt+key combination (e.g. alt+0150) to achieve this, or Microsoft Word may automatically substitute a dash where there are two adjacent hyphens.

The Euro sign The Euro currency sign is also not well supported yet (for example Win 95, NT 4.0 and some Win 98 language configurations do not support this symbol).

British / U.S. differences ! - is an exclamation mark in Britain and an exclamation point in the U.S. The letter Z is pronounced 'ziii' in the U.S. and 'zed' in Britain.