Sunday, March 6, 2011

The interrobang and me

Today’s ‘Positive and Optimistic Sunday’. I’ve previously written that ‘The older I get, the less I know. Or maybe…the more I don't know’ [1]. This applies to literally everything – including the English language. In three days time I’ll be 63¾ years old. You’d think in that not inconsiderable time I’d have learnt all there is to learn about my mother tongue. Maybe not its words and grammar, but at least its punctuation marks. Conventionally it has 14 punctuation marks [2, 3]. I thought 14’s all there were. Until last week when in her weekly podcast [4] Grammar Girl dropped what to me felt like a bombshell. (A figurative one, anyway). A fifteenth. Indeed a combination of two of the 14, i.e. an exclamation mark and a question mark superimposed over each other. It signifies the simultaneous meaning of both, i.e. an interrogative exclamation mark, or an exclamatory question mark. Its name? Interrobang (or interabang). Grammar Girl says that you shouldn’t use the interrobang in formal writing, but it’s suited for blogs and other informal communication. She adds that you can insert an interrobang as a special character from the ‘Wingdings 2’ font in your word processing program. And she provides unicode values for adding the interrobang to your website. So there you have it. Not for the first [5] but for the second time, I’ve devoted a Sunday Farmdoc’s Blog post to something Grammar Girl’s taught me. Given my venerable age, how positive and optimistic is that.

1 comment:

Chrows25 aka Leather Woman said...

Ho dear since I am a punctuation anarchist, it's probably best if I don't try to misuse this as well.