Have You Ever Heard an Interrobang‽

FUTURE CULLEN SEZ: While everything looks fine on my monitor, I have a good reason to fear that other people might be missing out on some of the joys of this post. See, I looked up this essay on Microsoft Explorer and saw an error there in. Way to mess up my life, Bill Gates!

The link at the end should provide an answer for the curious.

Here’s a word you’ll probably never ever need to clog your gray cells: Interrobang! Sounds like the punchline to a bad joke (and has been) but it is an honest to God part of English grammar. Or, to be more specific, American English grammar.

See that odd symbol at the very end of my title? I’ll enlarge it down here for you:

There it is, in all it’s glory! Looks like an exclamation point throwing a haymaker. Or, if you want to be vulgar, a question mark with an erection.

So, what is the interrobang’s function? It was created in 1962 by ad agent Martin Speckter in as a means of denoting surprise and a question in a sentence. Normally, people were doing it this way:

She said it was whose kid ?!

You did what with the money?!

What do you mean, Cullen’s dating the Jessica Simpson?!

All sorts of clutter, right? However, after Speckter’s brainstorm, we could write cleaner sentences, like so:

She said it was whose kid‽

You did what with the money‽

What do you mean, Cullen’s dating the Jessica Simpson‽

So much simpler. So much copy space saved.

For a time, it was rather popular. But, like the Smurfs, it’s popularity in America has dwindled to nothing. It went from a big thing in the Sixties to nothing now. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to find it working on WordPress. Thought I’d have to cut and paste a picture of it to get this essay to work.

So there you have it. Another conscious attempt to change grammar nipped in the bud. Good thing? Bad thing? Who can say?

Further notes on the interrobang can be found here.


5 Replies to “Have You Ever Heard an Interrobang‽”

  1. I was afraid of that. Watts (Brother Eric) and I are using a FireFox Browser, which most definitely sees the thing. I’m glad I could check it out on Explorer too. Wonder how it looks on other browsers…

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