NZTC International Word of the Week: Klammeraffe

Date
Apr
10
20150410

NZTC International Word of the Week: Klammeraffe

The word Klammeraffe (spider monkey) is a common German expression for the symbol @, known rather less imaginatively in English as the “At-sign”. Other German expressions used for this symbol are Affenschwanz (monkey’s tail), Affenohr (monkey’s ear) and Elefantenohr (elephant’s ear). In other languages the At-sign is compared to snails, elephant trunks, and various types of food, such as rollmops (in Czech and Slovak). In Hungarian, it is called a kukac ("worm" or "maggot").

In Russian the comparison with a dog (“sobaka“ - собака) can be traced back to the shorter-tailed version of the symbol as used on some early Soviet-era computers.

The French term for the At-sign is arobase, similar to the arroba of Spanish and Portuguese, apparently derived from printing and commercial terminology, rather than any animal analogy.

Other attempts in English to give the @ a more fitting name, such as asperand and amphora, do not appear to have caught on.