a blog of intensely low readership

23 July, 2006


I never even knew it existed until today when I was doing some mild mannered surfing on the old wiki (this time I was satisfying my curiosity regarding the inverted question mark and exclamation point in Spanish— which should really be an entire blog entry in itself...) when I stumbled upon: the interrobang!!???

An ingenious idea, though I can't say it's the sexiest punctuation character I've met in my day. As the story goes, in 1963 a fellow named Mark Speckter was looking for a way to streamline and "professionalize" the usage of "?!" at the end of sentences. "Bang! Interrogate this!" he said, and out popped our new friend the interrobang. I personally think it looks absolutely horrendous - there's a very odd tiny space formed between the curl of the question mark and the bar of the exclamation point. You'd think a better design solution than simply mashing them on top of one another could have been concocted. The name, however, caused me to laugh out loud when I first read it, and certainly deserves a more considered visual mark than this dotted humpy stump.

Sadness. While the interrobang enjoyed some success in the 60s, it simply couldn't compete with modern day copy-pasting 47 exclamation points and 38 question marks into the end of your latest iChat with Jimbob. And the visual impact of one ploppy little blob is no match for 85 punctuation marks.


So maybe it is for the best that this fad didn't last. It's one less key combination to remember, at least (though indeed, many fonts actually include the interrobang, and it made it into unicode).

Pay your respects to this deceased punctuation, and type an interrobang today. But how‽ Why, by copy-pasting, silly!

posted by Mr. Ryan-Head at 10:51 PM


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