"Hal E. Fulton" <hal9000 / hypermetrics.com> wrote in message
news:000901c020bf$db274480$01f9fea9 / austin.rr.com...
> >
> > The grave accent is positioned on top of a vowel.
>
> True.
>
> > It looks
> > just like a back-tick, but has a very different meaning.  It
> > means "this is pronounced differently".  English has no
> > particular use for this form, so we tend to be sloppy and
> > confuse it with the back-tick (which stands in isolation).
> >
> > Or, at least, that's my reading of the situation.
> >
>
> Well, I am having trouble proving this...  :) but what I *think*
> is correct is:
>
> 1. The word "back-tick" is pure slang.

Oh yea? Just wait till you get bit by one!

    "And when we stood to sing the closing hymn, I noticed a big Texas
star-back tick crawling up the side of that girl's neck."

(http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/metropolitan/hale/576124)

More seriously (OK, less seriously if you are medically or humanistically
inclined), the Oracle at Google (which supplied all the URLs cited
hereinbeforeandafter) also indicates that this is at least fairly common
jargon, especially in shell documentation.

Also:

    ` grave accent, grave, backquote, left quote, open quote, backprime,
    unapostrophe, backspark, birk, blugle, back tick, push

(http://users.tmok.com/~tumble/jargon.html)

    ` Back tick. Represents ejectives. This symbol must be distinguished
    attentively from the single quotation mark '.

(http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/8351/ASCII_IPA.html)

> 2. The symbol in question was originally used on equipment
> (typewriters, hardcopy terminals) capable of backspacing and
> reprinting, e.g:  letter e, backspace, grave accent.

    GRAVE ACCENT
    Originally included for use as an accent; overloaded in the US to also
mean an opening single quotation mark.

    Ref.:

    as grave accent:
        L. L. Griffin, report of ISO TC 97/SC 2 meeting, October 29-31,
1963,
        NMAH 310, box 4.
    as opening single quotation mark in the USA:
        Proposed Revised American Standard Code for Information Interchange,
        CACM, vol. 8, no. 4, April, 1965, pp. 207-214.

(http://www.hut.fi/u/jkorpela/latin1/ascii-hist.html)

> 3. This almost becomes a semantic argument.

Well, it had better be, for it wouldn't be *meaningful* argument otherwise,
now, would it? :-)

Conrad