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Chinese couple apply to name their baby 'at sign'

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A young Chinese couple have applied to name their newborn boy after the typographic symbol '@', according to the country's state language committee.
BEIJING, August 16 (RIA Novosti) - A young Chinese couple have applied to name their newborn boy after the typographic symbol '@', according to the country's state language committee.

The sign, which has had various meanings in European writing systems since the Middle Ages but is now best known for its use in e-mail addresses, appealed to the parents because when read aloud in English it sounds like the Chinese for "I love him."

Li Yuming, deputy director of the State Committee on the Chinese Language, did not say whether the parents' application had been accepted.

Written Chinese, believed to be the world's oldest living writing system, has around 5,000 characters that each represents a morpheme, or 'unit of meaning.' When naming a child in China any of these symbols are permissible, but numbers and foreign letters are forbidden.

The philologist said that around 60 million people in China have names that include extremely rare Chinese characters, presenting state authorities with major difficulties in processing documents.

Ironically, programmer Ray Tomlinson, the creator of network e-mail, chose the @ symbol to indicate the location of an e-mail recipient partly because he believed no one would ever have such a character in their name.

In a rival bid for the world's most bizarre name choice, a New Zealand couple recently tried to call their son '4real,' but settled for 'Superman' when their application was rejected.

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