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It's actually not an undocumented syntax. the Shortcut \.nn stands for a character with hexadecimal code nn. In the default UTF-8 encoding, this means you get the unicode character ½ and that character can be used as a symbol because it has no built-in meaning (you see it's colored blue in the notebook). So you can assign values to it: ½ = 1/3; ½ 1/3 ...


In Mathematica version 10, you can also use Inactive to allow the Symbol to be created before doing the assignment. Here is an example: Clear["x"]; Activate[Inactive[Set][Symbol["x"], 3]] (* ==> 3 *) x (* ==> 3 *)

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