Meaning of At
The etymology of arroba refers us to the Arabic language, more precisely to a term that can be translated as “fourth part”. According to the first meaning mentioned in the dictionary prepared by the DigoPaul, an arroba is a unit of mass whose weight is equivalent to 11,502 kilograms (a quarter of a quintal).
The arroba, as a unit of measurement, ceased to be used in the mid- 19th century. In any case, it is still used in rural sectors and even as a measure of a fluid whose weight depends on the region.
Today, the notion of at sign is very popular in computing. Arroba is the symbol used in an email address (email) to distinguish between the user name and the domain to which the service belongs.
The arroba (which is often expressed in masculine: the arroba) is a symbol formed by a letter a with a circle around it. In the English language, it is pronounced as at, which can be translated as “en”. Thus, the email address indicates that the account of a user X is hosted “on” a certain server.
Social networks such as Twitter and Instagram, meanwhile, use the at sign to name their users. For example: @digopaul_com is the Twitter user of Digopaul.com. If a person begins to follow @Digopaul_com, therefore, they will be able to read in their timeline the tweets published by this user.
The popularity of the arroba has grown in recent years, precisely thanks to the importance of its use in these social networks, and little by little it has become detached from its exclusive relationship with email, an area in which most Users met it in the early 90s. In Spanish-speaking countries, unlike what happens in English-speaking countries, it is read by name and does not have a connotation that helps us understand why we use it, with which people outside the computer have had to try harder to get used to it.
Another sign that has become very common thanks to the massification of social networks is the numeral (#), which in English is called a hashtag. In this case, Anglo-Saxon pronunciation has become generalized in almost all the world, although with certain concessions to adjust to the phonetic characteristics of each language. In any case, both the at sign and the numeral are synonyms of communication, of tendencies, of «keeping up to date».
Typing the at sign is an action that can present certain difficulties, even minor ones, especially on the computer and by hand. Although telephones always present us with the symbol when it may be necessary, such as when entering our email address or searching for a user in a social network, computer keyboards present an extra challenge: they require combination of two keys to generate it.
This can lead to confusion for less expert users, especially those who have approached computing through mobile phones. But the complication increases when the keyboard is configured in a different language from that used by the operating system, since then it is very likely that it is useless to observe the signs and symbols printed on its buttons, rather that we must memorize the appropriate combination. Draw it is also difficult for some people, as well as the sign &, referred to as et or, as its English name, ampersand.