Thursday, November 28, 2019

A Thanksgiving Day Lesson on the Interrobang blog post #364
Courtesy of
First of all, a happy Thanksgiving Day wish to all my readers, foreign and domestic. I say that because last month, I received 2000 hits from Israel, 800 from Russia, and almost as many from Hong Kong, and the Netherlands.

Today’s post was inspired by two things:

First, it’s a holiday, and not many people will indulge in the practice of checking some guy’s blog.

Second, a recent reading in our Wordwrights Writing Class.

Last Monday, one of our members read an original poem to the class, in which he used both a question mark and a comma to end a sentence. This prompted a discussion of why this unusual pairing. Unusual but not unheard of. Upon returning home after class, I dragged out a paper I’d given the class two years ago. I found it interesting and hope you will as well. The tip is reproduced below.

WORDWRIGHTS WEEKLY TIP #67       For Monday 7/10/17

A deviation from the norm this week. Last Monday, Stan Rhine introduced us to a form of punctuation called the interrobang (also known as the interabang), which was unfamiliar to most of us. Let’s take a look at it.

The interrobang was the concept of Martin K. Speckter, the head of an advertising agency, who believed that ads would look better if copywriters conveyed surprised rhetorical questions using a single mark. He introduced his idea in the magazine TYPEtalks in 1962.

As you can see from the glyph above, the interrobang is a fusion of the exclamation point and the question mark used in informal English to ask a question in an excited manner, express excitement or disbelief in the form of a question, or to ask a rhetorical question.

Because many fonts do not contain such a symbol, some writers use them in succession (?! or !?). However, I produced an interrobang glyph from Microsoft Word’s Character Map by using ALT+8253 (‽).

The Chicago Manual of Style is silent on interrobangs, as is Diana Hacker’s A Writer’s Reference, The Elements of Style, The Elements of Editing, and English Grammar for Dummies.

As stated, many people are unfamiliar with the interrobang, and it enjoys limited support today. The symbol is not a standard punctuation mark and should not be used in formal writing. If you use it at all, do so rarely and selectively.

As a matter of interest, the two grammatical marks in question are used as punctuation in chess annotations. The “!?” denotes an interesting move, while “?!” denotes a dubious move. Personally, I will limit use of the interrobang to my copious writings on the great game of chess.

While I recognize not all readers are as fascinated by writing and grammar and the like as I am, I hope you found the above interesting.

The Voxlightner Scandal was released Tuesday, November 19. The following are buy links for the book”

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!

My personal links: (Note the change in the Email address because I’m still getting remarks on the old PLEASE DON’T USE THAT ONE.)
Twitter: @dontravis3

Buy links to Abaddon’s Locusts:

See you next week.


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