Now banish the pathetic。 from public discourses, and you reduce the speakers merely to modern eloquence; that is, to good sense, delivered in proper expression.
Hume, On Eloquence

There are lots of this sort of old marks in this article by David Hume. I am totally at a loss what function this special mark has.

2 Answers 2


It is an "Ideographic Full Stop"1

In some Asian languages, notably Chinese and Japanese, a small circle is used instead of a solid dot: "。" [Source]

@KaiserOctavius encouraged me to search a bit more and although most of the links I found searching that quote didn't have the "。", one result did have the "degree sign" °.

On that page, it appears the author was just using these marks as links to the glossary, indeed, clicking the symbol took me to a glossary entry for pathetic.

enter image description here

1. I didn't get this as a linguist, I got this is a programmer! I found a "Character to ASCII converter" and used that to find out the hexadecimal ID of the character, then I used another online tool to find out the character's name, then googled that name. Rinse and repeat for other unknown characters

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    Clearly that is not its function here. Sep 22, 2013 at 8:22
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    That doesn't mean that's not what the character is. The mark itself may be error. It's worth noting that when I google the quote, most results don't have that mark and those that do are links to this question. Sep 22, 2013 at 8:28
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    Rightly so, your downvote was justified and had the beneficial effect of me looking for another, better answer. Sep 22, 2013 at 8:39
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    It is fairly common for words in a text to be highlighted as being defined in a glossary with the degree sign (I am currently setting a book that does the exact same thing). I admit I haven’t seen the ideographic full stop used in this manner before, but it’s not much of a stretch. Sep 22, 2013 at 10:41
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    @JanusBahsJacquet: I think I have seen the symbol "°" used for links to a glossary or some such; now I wonder why one would use this symbol and not something else, such as an asterisk or a dagger, or underline the word, or use small capitals. Any idea? It seems to be a rather recent invention. Sep 22, 2013 at 14:33

If I might clarify James Webster's point, I think the lesson here is that the questioner's source (directly or indirectly) is a modern electronic version which included hyperlinks to editorial notes, and he or she is mistakenly interpreting the hyperlinks as 'old marks' in the original.

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    Yes, you are totally right. I mistook it as an old mark.
    – benlogos
    Sep 23, 2013 at 6:46

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