Strudel is a term, restricted to the variety hackers’ jargon, that stands for the ‘at-sign, @’. At first sight this metaphor seems to be sufficiently and easily analyzed comparing it to the edible strudel. This seems to be grounded on a visual similarity between the two referents. Primarily strudel refers to “a pastry made from a thin sheet of dough rolled up with filling and baked” (WNED). The shape of @ resembles the strudel’s rolled shape (Bründl 1999: 191). According to the classical approach this metaphor can be represented by the formula: X (@) is like Y (strudel) in respect of Z (shape: roll(ed)). But the fact that the naming of the at-sign is not predicated on pre-existing and objective similarities can be proven by a cross-linguistic and cross-cultural comparison. The following table gives some examples of different metaphorical realizations of @ in multiple languages (and cultures):
|Dutch||api||short for ape-staart(je): ‘(little) monkey’s tail’|
|Danish||snabel, grisehale||‘an “A” with a(n elephant’s) trunk’,’pig’s tail’|
|French||petit escargot||‘little snail’|
|Swedish||snabel-a, kanelbulle||‘an “A” with a(n elephant’s) trunk’, ‘spiral-shaped cinnamon-cake’|
(extended adaptation from Bründl 2001: 154)
Obviously, every metaphorical equivalent for the at-sign given above is based on a visual similarity between an animal or food and @, i.e. the metaphorical names always refer to the image of a spiral-like or rolled-up object. Metaphors like this ground on different subjectively perceived and constructed similarities which moreover have to be characterized as culture-specific. Furthermore, there are not only differences between distinct language communities but also within one speech community. We find several metaphorical verbalizations of @ within the variety of hackers’ jargon and have multiple synonyms for strudel: vortex, whirlpool, cyclone, snail, ape, cat, rose and cabbage (NHD, Bründl 1999: 191). Looking at these different synonyms the conclusion can be drawn that due to the international connection of hackers (or even also average users) via the Internet, culture-specific denotations spread faster. In turn, the hackers’ jargon forms some kind of melting pot for metaphors of multiple culture-specific origins. Resemblances are obviously perceived differently from one culture to another; still these examples show that we are able to relate to other culture-specific metaphors, since there is an intersubjective common ground to conceive of the @ as something spiral-like or rolled-up. Of course, cats and apes are normally not understood as rolled-up; our encyclopedic knowledge allows us to recall the image of a lying cat that curls up and an ape hanging from a tree or curling up his tail (Bründl 2001: 155).
Moreover, the at-sign is a graphic symbol and not a lexeme, so it is the symbol’s representation that relates to the visual appearance of its metaphorical equivalents; therefore @ is graphemically motivated (Bründl 2001: 155, Lu 1998: 60ff.). On the whole, the @-example demonstrates that an analysis restricted to semantic features is not sufficient to explain (inter)subjective and culture-specific categorizations and conceptualizations. Furthermore, this proves the importance and predominance of the cognitive notion (Bründl 2001: 155).
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 Here, the classical approach corresponds to the interaction theory which was first constructed by Richards (1936) then adapted and further developed by Black (1962). This theory literally concentrates on the interaction between the metaphor and the given context. Therefore it is a language-immanent approach that is mainly applied to whole sentences, not lexemes (Bründl 2001: 20, Leech 1974: 146f.). The metaphorical process is regarded as a transfer of certain semantic features based on similarity. Richards differentiates between tenor (the new referent), vehicle (the original referent) and ground (the semantic features shared by tenor and referent). Leech (1969: 151) gives the formula: “X (tenor) is like Y (vehicle) in respect of Z (ground).” She is a pig then means that a person (X) is called a pig (Y) because of the fact that she eats too much or is untidy (Z). Eating too much and being untidy are two semantic features that both tenor and vehicle have in common. This similarity between tenor and vehicle is therefore presupposed to be objective and pre-existing.
 http://www.netlingo.com/word/1023.php [02/10], Quinion: http://www.worldwidewords.org/articles/whereat.htm [2/10]; Further examples for metaphorical equivalents of @ have been assembled here: http://linguistlist.org/issues/11/11-1740.html [2/10].
 An elaborate work on the history of the at-sign is offered by: Androutsopoulos, Jannis K. 1997. Der Name @. de:bug: Zeitschrift für elektronische Lebensaspekte 6.
Androutsopoulos, Jannis K. 1997. Der Name @. de:bug: Zeitschrift für elektronische Lebensaspekte 6.
Black, Max. 1962. Models and Metaphors. Ithaca: Cornell UP.
Bründl, Monika E. 1999. Cookies, Strudels, and Easter Eggs – (Food) Metaphors in the Language of Computing. Words, Lexemes, Concepts – Approaches to the Lexicon: Studies in Honour of Leonard Lipka, Wolfgang Falkner & Hans-Jörg Schmid (Eds), 161-172. Tübingen: Narr.
Bründl, Monika E. 2001. Lexikalische Dynamik: Kognitiv-linguistische Untersuchungen am englischen Computerwortschatz. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
Leech, Geoffrey N. 1974. Semantics. Harmondsworth: Peguin.
Lu, Angela Yi-chün. 1998. Phonetic Motivation: A Study of the Relationship Between Form and Meaning. München: Hieronymus.
Richards, Ivor A. 1936. The Philosophy of Rhetoric. Oxford: Oxford UP.
Webster’s New Encyclopedic Dictionary. 2002. Springfield, MA: Federal Street Press. (= WNED)