An acceleration point, uncommon in English typography, is used to indicate an increase in the speed at which the reader reads text. The typographical character derives from the tailed script m (Mercury sign) from the Wingdings font.
Although rarely used in standard English, the acceleration point appears commonly in the Valley girl dialect found in southern California. In addition to commonly heard variations of words (such as "like," "duh," and "totally), speech will occasionally speed up, apropos of nothing. While the acceleration point is most commonly found in the Valley girl dialect, it has uses in standard English, as well. Speakers who are nervous tend to speak at a faster pace than normal, requiring an acceleration point in written text. Other speakers, such as auctioneers, who are known for speaking quickly, sometimes also require acceleration points.
The acceleration point was first conceived of by linguist Benjamin H. Chatterton, working out of Brigham Young University. Supervising a team of undergraduates, he isolated the times in which the acceleration point appears in common speech and devised the appearance of the mark. While it has yet to be approved by any linguistic governing body, a paper on the subject is forthcoming.
edit: wikipedia seems to have bought it, for the time being. the permanent link can be found here. please, tell your friends. see if you can find more articles to link to this one. the more publicity we can get for the acceleration point, the better.