Middle dot

From Academic Kids

A middle dot is one of several types of dots that occur in the middle of a character space, such as the examples in the following table. Depending on context, it may serve as a punctuation mark or a diacritic.

Symbol Character Entity Numeric Entity Unicode Code Point Notes
· · · U+00B7 middle dot, interpunct
• • U+2022 bullet, often used to mark list items
  ‧ U+2027 hyphenation point
  ・ U+30FB fullwidth katakana middle dot
  ・ U+FF65 halfwidth katakana middle dot

Characters in the Symbol column, above, may not render in all browsers.

The dot called interpunct was used regularly in early Latin, but had long been replaced by space. The Georgian language uses · (middot) as comma. The Taiwanese dot above right (indicating a more open vowel) is often expressed as a Unicode middle dot, as the necessary combining character was not codified prior to June 2004. As well, the Greek Ano Teleia (a semicolon-like punctuation mark, lit. "upper dot") is often expressed as a middle dot, although Unicode provides for a unique U+0387. [1] (http://ptolemy.tlg.uci.edu/~opoudjis/unicode/punctuation.html)

In Japanese, foreign words written in katakana are separated by the middle dot (・) when necessary. The Japanese language does not use space or any punctuation to separate native words, but suffice with using a mix of writing systems of katakana, kanji, and hiragana to indicate word boundary. A middle dot is also sometimes used to separate lists instead of the Japanese comma ("、" known as tōten). In Japanese typography, the "katakana middle dot" (as the Unicode consortium calls it) has a fixed width that is the same as most kana characters, known as fullwidth. Note that while some fonts may render the middle dot as a square under great magnification, this is not a defining property of the middle dot that is used in Japan.

In Catalan, the punt volat (literally, "flown dot") is used between two l's (thus: l·l) in cases where each belongs to a separate syllable (e.g. col·lecció, collection). This is to distinguish the true "double-l" pronunciation from that of the letter-combination ll (without a dot) which in Catalan stands for the single sound represented by the IPA symbol [λ] (e.g. castellà, Castilian) . In spelling, l·l is called ela geminada ("geminate l") and ll ella.

In British publications up to the mid-1970s, especially scientific and mathematical texts, the decimal point was commonly typeset as a middle dot. When the British currency was decimalized in 1971, the official advice issued was to write decimal amounts with a raised point (thus: £21·48) and to use a decimal point "on the line" only when typesetting constraints made it unavoidable. The widespread introduction of electronic typewriters and calculators soon afterwards was probably a major factor contributing to the decline of the raised decimal point, although it can still sometimes be encountered in academic circles: e.g. Cambridge University 2004 (http://www.hist.cam.ac.uk/graduate_students/phd/approved-style.pdf), and Durham University 2004 (http://www.dur.ac.uk/diversity.equality/cleardocs.php).

In mathematics, a small middle dot can be used to represent the product, for example xy for the product of x and y. When dealing with scalars, it is interchangeable with ×: xy means the same thing as x×y. However, when dealing with vectors, the dot product is distinct from the cross product. This usage has its own designated code point in Unicode, U+2219 (∙), called the "bullet operator".

In the Shavian alphabet, the middle dot is used before a word to denote it as a proper noun.

See also: Punctuation.ca:Punt volat fr:Point médian minnan:Tiong-kan-tiám ja:・

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