Thursday, January 26, 2006


I didn't know it existed, until today when I was checking for the 134995th time which one is the forward slash (/) and which one backslash (\). I would write both with an up-down motion, so the names are confusing to me, even though the naming in general makes perfect sense.

So, Martin Speckter in 1962 decided that instead of using the exclamation mark and the questionmark separately, you could have one mark that would combine both. Why on earth?!

It hasn't really picked up, has it? I couldn't find it in Word's seemingly exhaustive menu of symbols, so it probably just exists in the more professional software. You'd get a great question for a trivia quiz, though, but that's about it. I wholeheartedly support the campaign to get rid of using multiple punctuation marks (or in some occasion the _people_ who use multiple punctuation, like teenagers!!11!!?!), but this is just complicated. Plus it loses the sometimes important distinction between !? and ?!.

And what about the name, interrobang? Sounds like a sexual perversion to me, more than punctuation. Or at best it is something from a Monty Python movie or Victor Borge comedy routine. Then again, with the right twist in your mind, you can make pretty much any punctuation mark sound dirty: "Hey babe, how about some hyphenation back at my place?" (Anyone still wondering why it's been so quiet for me lately on that front... :-) )

If this punctuation mark is to get any mileage, it should be called WTF. Because it's more concise, and precisely what it means. (For a great guide to the usage of WTF, see the End of the World).

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