The Religious Origins Of The @ SignS

The sign that's in your email address, and everyone else's, actually got its start hundreds of years ago in monasteries. Textspeak isn't just for tweens. It's for monks.

If you're the type of person who gets annoyed at textspeak on blogs and in messages, go ahead and text back a message like, "You remind me of a medieval monk." It'll probably be construed as an insult by the recipient, and it will be true. The monks took shortcuts with words just the way modern people do. The first uses of "@" come from monasteries. It was used the same way it is today, to mean "at." Researchers disagree as to whether it was first substituted for English words with a "t" or Italian ones with an accent mark, but either way, it cut down on the number of pen strokes, and when you're translating and copying the Bible all day, that really adds up.

Incidentally, the first person to use "@" outside a monastery was Francesco Lapi, an Italian merchant. Still, the credit for the sign itself goes to the monks. Way to go, guys. You put the @ in beg@. Perhaps literally.

Via Wired.