I love my character map!

I my character map!

During the diving competition at the Olympics, the operator who does those “lower third” graphics did something unprofessional, something that peeved me a little. He didn’t use his vulgar fractions.

Let me explain this a little bit better. Whenever he typed in the kind of dive each diver was supposed to do, he did that number-slash-number thing, which looked kind of like this:

Forward 2 1/2 Somersault

There’s no reason anyone should have to do this. In every computer, there is this thing called the Character Map, which lists all the characters not commonly found on the computer keyboard. In my Windows XP computer, for instance, I can click from Start through Accessories through System Tools through to Character Map, and a box will come up on my screen that lists scads of unused characters, from arrows through playing card suits through mathematical symbols to that legal paragraph symbol. It is there that one can find the vulgar fractions that graphics operator would need to properly identify those dives, like this:

Forward 2½ Somersault

Once you’re there, all you have to do is string them together, copy, and paste. Easy. If I got something like that on a ten-year old tower that’s lucky to be running XP, then how did the pros working for NBC Sports miss it?

Why do they call them “vulgar” fractions, anyway? It’s not like anybody would raise a fuss if they were used in a church bulletin. I just used one, and I don’t feel any more like a barbarian. Can anybody tell me that?


7 thoughts on “I love my character map!

  1. They’re “vulgar” fractions for the same reason as the English translation of the Bible used to be called a “Vulgate”; “vulgar” means “common”.

    The alternative to “vulgar fractions” is “scientiifc notation”: 2.5 somersault, anyone?

  2. ½ vs. 1/2

    Only one of these are distinguishable (to me, anyways) while standing 4 feet away from the desk…

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