Tiny White Flowers

Tiny White Flowers

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Interrobang

Ladies and Gents, let me tell you about a certain punctuation mark that is relatively unknown (and therefore possibly under-utilized, depending on what you believe): The Interrobang.


Also known as the Quesclamation Mark, it was created in the 1960s by the head of an advertising agency and is the combination of the question ? and exclamation ! marks, and it solves a couple of different dilemmas. The first is the issue of the order in which one might arrange the two marks at the end of the statement (is it a statement?! ... !?) one has just written. One need no longer debate their proper sequence, and need not spend precious time on a raging internal battle over the matter. Second, one might also consider two punctuation marks (excluding quotations and parentheses) excessive. "Two punctuation marks for one phrase? The nerve of some people!" With the interrobang the problem is solved.

But! The arrangement of the marks changes the tone of the phrase, you argue! One expresses excitement while the other expresses the state of being dubious (dubiousness?):

"Are you serious?!"

"Are you serious!?"

Or maybe you think that the quesclamation mark, "the spork of punctuation," is just plain ugly.

The writers of this article most certainly belong to the interrobang appreciation camp, and want to know if You call that a hat?!.

I am both bewildered and delighted by this whole interrobang business. But mostly bewildered. 

What about you? Bemused? Horrified? Intrigued? All three at once?

Guest post by the author's daughter.

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