A Chinese couple tried to name their baby "@", claiming the character used in e-mail addresses echoed their love for the child, an official trying to whip the national language into line has said.
The unusual name stands out especially in Chinese, which has no alphabet and instead uses tens of thousands of multi-stroke characters to represent words.
"The whole world uses it to write e-mail, and translated into Chinese it means ‘love him’," the father explained, according to the deputy chief of the State Language Commission Li Yuming.
While the "@" simple is familiar to Chinese e-mail users, they often use the English word "at" to sound it out – which with a drawn out "T" sounds something like "ai ta", or "love him", to Mandarin speakers.
Li did not say if officials accepted the "@" name. But earlier this year the government announced a ban on names using Arabic numerals, foreign languages and symbols that do not belong to Chinese minority languages.