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UA18: Web addresses in English (30.11.00)

A modern skill is giving other people a Web address over the phone.

Stewart Clark

A modern skill is giving other people a Web address over the phone. When this is to be done in English it is important to get the terms right. The World Wide Web is normally written and read as "w, w, w" (double u, double u, double u), not as some Norwegians say "v, v, v".

The / sign is called a slash. Slashes are often used to indicate directories and subdirectories in World Wide Web addresses. Because the top of the slash leans forwards, it is sometimes called a "forward slash." If there are two, call them "double slash". Never use the term "back slash", which is this \ as Web addresses never contain backslashes.

The term "dot" is almost universally used in English for the full stop punctuation mark in Web and e-mail addresses. Thus the full address:
is read as "h, t, t. p, colon, double slash, w, w, w, dot, n, t, n, u, dot, n, o, slash, f, a, k, s, e, n, t".

"Dash" is a common term to use for the mid-position short horizontal line. Thus t-no is read as "t, dash n, o".
Occasionally letters are underlined, the term to use here is "underscore". Thus hc is read as "h, underscore c".
A sign that is used in Spanish and Portuguese to mark an accent, ˜ , is also used in web addresses. This is read as "tilde".

Tricky words
Chad, chad
Chad (Norw. Tchad) is a country of north-central Africa. Formerly part of French Equatorial Africa, it became independent in 1960. This is always capitalized.
chad (Norw. konfetti) means the small pieces of paper or cardboard removed from paper tape or punched cards. It is ironical how this tiny bit of waste that did not end up in the bin may decide who is going to win the 2000 election and become the president of the United States. The democratic rights of millions of people are literally and figuratively hinging on the chads. As some chads were not removed, the ballot cards were not counted in the normal election count. These indented, hinged and bent chads on the manually punched ballots in some counties in the state of Florida have been manually examined for hints of the voters' electoral intent.

Lama, llama
Suppose you are writing about His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Dalai is not an easy word to spell correctly and the dubious suggestions on the spellchecker from Word include Dahlia and Dallas. The next part of his name must be used with care as shown by a letter from the Congress of the United States. In nominating Thich Quang Do to the Nobel Peace Prize 2000, they also referred to "His Holiness the Dalai Llama". Unlike Norwegian, which gets by with lama for both the holy man and the unholy camel, English has two words that both sound the same: lama and llama - leaving spellcheckers out of their depth. So remember the single "l" version has two legs, and, despite what the Congress of the United States suggested in their letter to the Nobel Committee in Oslo, the double "ll" version has four legs, spits and smells and is definitely not a past Nobel Laureate.

God, god
As the name of the creator and supreme being, God is capitalized like any other proper name. Thus use God in Judaism, Christianity and other monotheistic religions. Note that there is no article in this use of the word. Consequently when God is used in phrases like "thank God" (Norw. gudskjelov) and "word of God" (Norw. gudsord), it is capitalized in English.
When god is used for a superhuman being or spirit, it is not capitalized. Examples: "He looks like a Greek god". "The rain gods blessed Oslo last month". As a generic term for a person that is adored or something that is believed in, god is also not capitalized, "they treated Elvis like a god, unfortunately he made narcotics his god".

Enlightening English signs
The manager has personally passed all the water here (hotel in Acapulco)

Dirty Water Punishment Place (how a sewage treatment plant was marked on a map of Tokyo)

Please to bathe within the tub (Japanese hotel notice)

Swimming is forbidden in absence of the Saviour (French Swimming Pool)