Thursday, October 13th, 2011
The internet has a lot to answer for: identity theft, horror porn, and Rebecca Black, to name just a few examples. However, if there’s one thing it is good for (unless, that is, you are a sadistic online thief with a penchant for woeful bubblegum pop), then that is providing a wealth of semi-useless information — the type of titbit that might one day win you a hair-dryer in a pub quiz.
The other day I found, buried away in some distant recess of the web, the interrobang. Although you might be forgiven for thinking this is a Swedish heavy metal band, the interrobang is, in fact, a punctuation point that combines the question and exclamation mark. It looks a little something like this:
Invented by American advertiser Martin K. Spektor in 1963, the word interrobang combines the Latin interrogatio, meaning rhetorical question, with bang, the printers’ slang for exclamation mark. Like the etch-a-sketch, sleeping with your sister, and doing the Twist, it was briefly popular as the decade progressed. And, like these things, with the possible exception of the etch-a-sketch, it never really caught on.
However, it is still furtively present in some fonts in Microsoft word, and it does have its own Facebook fan page. So, maybe it’s time to dust down this hippy punctuation point and get interrobanging again. And, while, we’re at, why not invent some more crazy punctuation marks. For starters, what about the inverted full-stop? Or the quarter colon?
Henry Croft, currently doing work experience at A&B