interrobang ()

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What’s an interrobang?

An interrobang is a little-used punctuation mark that is a cross between a question mark (?) and an exclamation mark (!).  As this suggests, the interrobang is designed to be used to punctuate sentences that are a combination of question and exclamation.  Sometimes this is interpreted to mean a rhetorical question (a question for which no answer is required), but the interrobang is better suited to statements conveying incredulity or amazement.  Examples of such usage are “You paid how much for those shoes”, and “They promoted him

InterrobangThe interrobang was ‘invented’ by Martin K Speckter, the head of an advertising agency, who felt that it would be nice to have a standard typographic symbol for punctuating statements where neither the question nor an exclamation alone exactly served the writer (the practice prevailing at the time was to use typographically cumbersome and unattractive combinations of the question mark and exclamation mark to achieve this effect).  He chose the name to reference the punctuation marks that inspired it: interrogatio is Latin for “a rhetorical question” or “cross-examination”; bang is printers’ slang for the exclamation point.

Microsoft provides several versions of the interrobang character as part of the Wingdings 2 character set (on the }/] and ~/` keys) available with Microsoft Office. The interrobang was accepted into Unicode and is present in several fonts, including Lucida Sans Unicode, Arial Unicode MS, and Calibri, which is the default font in the new Office 2007 suite.

I like the interrobang.  I feel it fits well with the overall tone of this ‘blog, where I’m often writing about things that make me exclaim “What the f*ck”  The fact that it is not widely used simply adds to the attraction.

The full title of this weblog is “interrobang ()”.  This is a reference to Frank Zappa’s classic album Apostrophe (‘).  See, nothing is random!

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