The interrowhat? This article hopes that everyone reading will start using this long-forgotten punctuation mark more often.
The interrobang is a lesser-known punctuation mark that combines the question mark and exclamation point. The glyph for an interrobang is ‽, but you can also write it as !?, ?!, or ?!? if a particular typeface doesn’t have a dedicated interrobang typographical mark. Variations include an inverted and upside-down glyph (⸘) for languages like Spanish that use inverted punctuation marks.
A Brief History of the Interrobang
The interrobang has its origins in the 1960s:
Origin: Advertising head Martin K. Speckter designed and named the interrobang, proposing the new character in his 1962 TYPEtalks article, “Making a New Point, or, How About That.”
Decline: By the mid-1970s, fewer people and publications used the interrobang key and questioned its necessity over a single punctuation mark like the exclamation point or question mark. By the late 1970s, the interrobang fell out of fashion. Today, writers rarely use the interrobang outside of informal communication.
Now (Revival?): In an age when thoughts are limited to 140 characters, should it be necessary to use two punctuation marks where one could do? Given the past 2 years of insanity with a pandemic and a never-ending list of variants, perhaps it could be the time to bring this odd-looking squiggle back to life to express our collective high excitement, mirth or outrage. The interrobang clearly expresses today’s combination of question and crisis.
How to Use the Interrobang
The interrobang comes at the end of a sentence, similarly to a question mark or exclamation point, adding energy in the form of a question. It may convey either shocked incredulity or an excited query.
Here are some of our suggestions
· There’s free coffee in the cafeteria?!
· Did you spend 800k on med school just to make peanuts?!
· The assignment was due yesterday?!
· Do you have a life?!
Pro tip: If no, you’re hired at the hospital (:
It’s hard to believe the past season we have had. So hard that a punctuation mark could help explain it. The Interrobang—a largely forgotten symbol that marries both question and exclamation to convey disbelief—it provides a perfect cap to 2020 & 2021.