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The Arabic star is a symbol used in standard text that involves six or eight points and a central hub. The Arabic star resembles an asterisk, and experts in the semiotics of language reveal that the symbol was originally meant to replace the asterisk on typewriters that had problems replicating the symbol. Today, it is used in digital and print media.
In general, the Arabic star is more decorative than the simple asterisk. Often, the character includes eight points that are not straight lines, but rather, rounded oblongs with complex contours. The central hub might be a black circle with a white interior. Alternately, the ends of the symbol may be block contours. The result is a striking visual symbol that can be used in many ways in modern text.
These sorts of symbols might be used to break up text on a page. The Arabic star can also be used as a literary ellipsis, for example, to represent various parts of a chapter of a book, indicating places in the text where significant change occurs in the plot or setting, or where the narrative point of view shifts from one character to another. These symbols can also be useful in creating bullet points, because of their ornate and decorative design.
Arabic stars are an official part of the American Standard Code for Information Interchange or ASCII system. This convention is used to describe the characters commonly represented in digital interfaces. Because this symbol has its own ASCII code, computer programs can re-create it or manipulate it as necessary, although it is not a part of most standard English keyboards.
It’s important to distinguish between the Arabic star as a decorative character in text and the common “star and crescent” design on some flags of Arabic countries. In the star and crescent design, the star is a conventional five pointed star. It has a different symbolism and a different use from the ASCII character.
Part of understanding modern coding for text is to know about the informal names for coded characters like Arabic stars. This kind of symbol may not get used a lot, but when coders come across it, they need to know why it is in a certain text or program. Knowledge of these symbols is also important in layout departments, or in printing businesses where the display characters are a significant part of design.
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