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Interrobang ?!
August 16, 2002 9:27 PM   Subscribe

Interrobang ?! Because what we all really need is another bit of punctuation to misuse.
posted by kristin (27 comments total)

 
Calling User 14200...
posted by languagehat at 9:39 PM on August 16, 2002


Considering I was reading and discussing the interrobang (aka interrabang) in high school approx. 30 years ago, this may set the record for Stalest MeFi Item Ever...
posted by anser at 9:45 PM on August 16, 2002


Also: thon
posted by Shadowkeeper at 10:09 PM on August 16, 2002


It's new to me, kristin. Good link! There are a couple of other punctuation marks I'd like to see... like a bang with a comma below, and a question mark with a comma below... Too often, I can't rightly mark-up a sentence to reflect irony, or other, more subtle emotions.

As for "thon" (great link, too!)... I think that there's some consensus on "they/their/them" as gender-neuter.
posted by silusGROK at 10:26 PM on August 16, 2002


I think we should go ahead and make emoticons standard punctuation.

It was the best of times :)

It was the worst of times :(

To be or not to be? :\

posted by Stan Chin at 10:32 PM on August 16, 2002


Stan Chin: Like it or not, they (emoticons) are well on their way to being punctuation.

I've no problem with it myself, but I'm sure the prescriptivist grammarians are deeply depressed by the idea.
posted by malphigian at 10:42 PM on August 16, 2002


While I am in favor of anything that reduces the total number of keystrokes I make in a day, I love typing the "?!" combination. Somehow, the amount of space it takes up communicates more than the poor Interrobang.

However, I acknowledge that new punctuation could make our written language more interesting. Emoticons and the interrobang aside, any ideas for what sorts of punctuation (possibly from other languages) could spice up English?
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:44 PM on August 16, 2002


I think that there's some consensus on "they/their/them" as gender-neuter.

Yes, but the consensus is "don't do it!" (at least among hardcore grammarians. Interesting article here.)

Stan Chin: that's hilarious, thanks.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 10:50 PM on August 16, 2002


the thing i like the most about most current punctuation symbols is that they're well, simple.

the interrobang is not. in fact, i think it's downright ugly.
posted by fore at 10:56 PM on August 16, 2002


Incidentally, if anyone is interested in starting a fetish pr0n site:
> whois hardcoregrammarians.com

No match for "HARDCOREGRAMMARIANS.COM".

Last update of whois database: Fri, 16 Aug 2002 17:02:01 EDT
posted by Shadowkeeper at 11:00 PM on August 16, 2002


Fore: it wouldn't be too ugly to write -- I was trying to think how I'd do it, and thought it looked like an 8 with a period below it.
posted by silusGROK at 11:05 PM on August 16, 2002


I like it?!

Stan, Bravo!
posted by wsg at 11:59 PM on August 16, 2002


I think that the english language is much to heavily dictated by the norms of society for a new punctuation mark to come into daily use.

The english language is one that is constantly changing itself. But for a planned change, there would need to be a real desire for it, or for that change to already be common in society.

Either way Interrobang definitely need a new PR team.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 3:56 AM on August 17, 2002


All things considered, we really could use some extra punctuation. English is poor at communicating tone and context (at least in average hands). Emoticons fill some of the gap. There isn't a good one for sarcasm, though. Or the eyeroll. Or the sideways glance that means did I just hear what I think I heard?. Or the emotionally even, between-friends irony in saying fuck you to each other.

C'mon, grammarians, help us out. It's this, or adverbs out the wazoo!
posted by dhartung at 4:16 AM on August 17, 2002


no one's allowed any new punctuation marks until the apostrophe is mastered, damnit.
posted by jcterminal at 4:36 AM on August 17, 2002


I remember an issue of Games Magazine ages ago(from its first incarnation, when it was good) having an article with a bunch of proposed new punctuation symbols.
My favorite was the Delta Sarc, which would be used to indicate sarcastic comments, and suggest a rising, sort of lip-curling tone of voice, increasing towards the end of the sentence.
posted by Su at 6:53 AM on August 17, 2002


I would like to take this opportunity to remind you all of inlines, which are ~rapidly~ gaining popularity online. I think their potential to enrich textual communication goes far beyond that of smileys or the interrobang.

There isn't a good one for sarcasm, though.

Lying inlines are great, ~you nincompoop~.
posted by daveadams at 7:16 AM on August 17, 2002


the interrobang is not. in fact, i think it's downright ugly.


*sob*
posted by interrobang at 8:18 AM on August 17, 2002


zzz...
posted by mrhappy at 8:44 AM on August 17, 2002


DillonthinksEnglishisaDemocracy. Like it or not, English changes without consensus, moral majority, or mandate from the masses.

Oh, and for those who are incapable of communicating emotion through plain ol' words, shame on you for blaming a lack of punctuation. The genius of sarcasm comes when one actually realizes you're being sarcastic, without having a freakin' laugh track to cue them in. And who needs an eyeroll in punctuation? Do you feel you're unable to express yourself on the telephone, because you don't have a button that lets the person on the other end know you're not serious? Would DaveAdams mind explaining what a squiggly line before and after a phrase is exactly supposed to mean - you're uncertain what tone should be expressed, so read the words within this bracket with a vibrato?

This is SUCH a stale topic, but it goes to show how much people dig on it once they discover it. I really just came in here to read the flames for the umpteenth such post on the greatest punctuation mark ever created. Honestly, people.
posted by birddog at 8:51 AM on August 17, 2002


Would DaveAdams mind explaining what a squiggly line before and after a phrase is exactly supposed to mean

Did you read the link I posted? It means I am using the word or phrase sarcastically, facetiously, ironically, or downright untruthfully. Maybe the link wasn't clear. When I said that inlines were growing ~rapidly~, I thought it was pretty clear what that should mean. %Maybe I was wrong.%

The genius of sarcasm comes when one actually realizes you're being sarcastic, without having a freakin' laugh track to cue them in

And yet, it's often so nice to have the option, if only to be able to be cute without risking offense or confusion, which real-life practice indicates is rampant in online textual communication.

Comparing text to voice is silly, because there's a huge amount of inflection and real-time interaction that is done in voice conversations that just isn't available in text.

Oh, and for those who are incapable of communicating emotion through plain ol' words, shame on you for blaming a lack of punctuation

thatsanicesentimentbutyoumayaswelladvocateforremovingallpunctuation
becausereallybirddogwhywouldyouneedanythingsopatheticascommasperiods
apostrophesandspacingorevenquestionmarksisntitperfectlyclearwhatim
sayingnow
posted by daveadams at 10:10 AM on August 17, 2002


speaking of interrobangs: Kyle's mom : >
posted by amberglow at 10:24 AM on August 17, 2002


Birddog, maybe I wasn't clear.

I don't believe that a conscious planned change to the english language is something that can be easily achieved. If they want to make it an "official" punctuation mark, first they would need to get it into daily use.

If, like you say, English changes without consensus, moral majority, or mandate from the masses, Then surely, a planned change would be extremely difficult?

That's the point I was trying to make anyhow.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 8:58 PM on August 17, 2002


In Spanish they'd often start an exclamatory statement with an upside down exclamation point, and questions were started with an upside down question mark. That always annoyed me, and felt like hitting a speed bump when I was reading. I blame that partly as to why I flunked spanish in high school and college. !Twice!

Besides, one can't easily type upside down punctuation marks, so thon suck.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:12 PM on August 17, 2002


Today I told my friends about the glory of the interrobang, and they all seemed rather pleased at the concept. I explained the various uses, and I think we all learned a little something special about punctuation. Tomorrow, I'll try incorporating it into some hand written notes, and maybe see if I can get a friend to use it as well. It's a grassroots type thing, and if we all chip together, who knows what we can accomplish?
posted by redsparkler at 12:17 AM on August 18, 2002


I know what we can accomplish - nothing. It was a grassroots movement 30 years ago. People don't need the mark badly enough to adopt it, it's just a cute diversion for people with nothing better to do.
posted by anser at 5:52 AM on August 18, 2002


But anser, it would have been adopted if it weren't for the machinations of our evil corporate overlords like IBM, who decide what's on our keyboards!
posted by dhartung at 11:29 AM on August 18, 2002


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