Re: Punctuation character (inverted interrobang) proposed

From: John Hudson (
Date: Mon Sep 05 2005 - 20:40:50 CDT

  • Next message: John Hudson: "Re: Punctuation character (inverted interrobang) proposed"

    Mark E. Shoulson wrote:

    >> By and large, Israeli punctuation matches that of the rest of the
    >> world. One difference from American grammar is the frequent occurence
    >> of the sequence `?!' to indicate some level of amazed incredulity.
    >> Just for fun, I have included in my Hebrew fonts the `interrobang'
    >> symbol ‽, which you can get by typing either !? or ?!. Perhaps this
    >> symbol will now sweep the world of Hebrew typesetting by storm‽

    > It does seem to be true that Israeli typesetting uses ?! more frequently
    > than proper English typesetting does. So I guess it's not necessarily
    > so "ungrammatical" to everyone.

    Sure it is. Using the interrobang or the sequence ?! to 'indicate some level of amazed
    incredulity' is what might be termed expressive typography. It is on par with emoticons
    like ;-) What distinguishes punctuation marks proper from such expressive signs is their
    connection to grammar, i.e. to the linguistic structures of a language.

    I have no major objection to the existence and use of the interrobang in this expressive
    way, and more than I object to Japanese schoolgirls dotting their i's with hearts. What
    I'm objecting to is the claim that it is a 'punctuation mark', which implies a grammatical
    function. Insofar as the interrobang confuses the two distinct grammatical constructions
    normally distinguished by the question and exclamation marks, one could call it an
    anti-punctuation mark; it actually diminishes the grammatical information available to the

    John Hudson

    Tiro Typeworks
    Vancouver, BC

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