#21 – Proposed Punctuation Points

The grammatical inventory of graphemes or glyphs (a more arbitrary logograph or unimplemented grapheme) is well filled and utilises a lot of varied functions.  However, it still remains lacking for a few of the more intonational functions of language such as affection, irony, sarcasm, or conviction; which could all well be represented graphemically within the orthography of English instead of just underlyingly or contextually.  Sometimes, people tend to use a combination of double utterance-final punctuative points but given that most punctuative points are utterance-final and not connective, we should only really see one punctuation point at a time unless the material itself is quoted with speech- or quote-marks, or any variety of brackets.  This was something that Hervé Bazin was keenly interested in (most of the proposed points are his, but not all of them are)…

#1 – Interrobang Mark

This little mark was devised by marketing executive Martin Speckter in 1962.  It is quite clear from the appearance of this glyph that it is a ligature of sorts where an exclamation mark has been superimposed upon a question mark.  The interrobang is indeed a grapheme and can be found in Microsoft Word in most fonts quite easily; <‽>.  It can be used to denote a loud question, <?!>, or rhetorical disbelief, <!?>, and is a very useful tool that I myself use in my own creative writing.  The symbol is present because technically <!> and <?> are utterance-final and therefore should only be used one at a time, typo-grammatically.  The name comes from the one Latin component, ‘interrogatio’, which means ‘question’, and the second component from typography where ‘bang’ is a slang term for exclamation mark.  USE: “Can you believe it___”.

#2 – Percontation Mark

Devised in the sixteenth century by Henry Denham, an English printer, this little mark never really took off despite some of the uses and stylishness it may have come with.  The percontation point/mark was intended for use at the end of rhetorical remarks or questions instead of the usual question mark.  This is a glyph and not a grapheme as it has not yet entered into a common use and represents a horizontally-mirrored question mark.  USE:  “Why does this always happen to me___”.

#3 – Irony Mark

Apparently, a British philosopher [John Wilkins] suggested an irony mark and that it could be an inverted exclamation mark, and later on, Alcanter de Brahm devised his own version looking somewhat like a whip.  It was Hervé Bazin who created the slightly droopy-looking, horizontally-mirrored question mark to the left.  USE: “Oh, that’s typical___”.

#4 – Affection Mark

Another among Bazin’s other proposed grammatical marks was the affection mark, which was a symbol of love, adoration, or even happiness.  The glyph itself presents two mirrored hooks converging near a point that resembles, very cutely, a love heart.  USE:  “You’re the best partner___”.

#5 – Acclamation Mark

This was another of Bazin’s creations and with a name like ‘acclamation mark’, sounding so similar to ‘exclamation mark’, it does already sound like a grammatical grapheme – though sadly, it is not.  Yet.  This glyph was proposed to be used in statements or remarks of respect, goodwill, welcome, and pride and was said to be a representation of two celebratory flags on either side of a tour bus.  USE:  “Welcome to this blog series___”.

#6 – Certitude Mark

Yet another of Bazin’s grammatical marks, this point was intended to be used wherever a speak showed certainty or conviction that they thoroughly believed in what they were talking about.  This could indeed be a suitable replacement for wherever certitude is demarcated in text by using the rather garish ‘ALL-CAPS’ technique.  USE:  “It was there last night___”.

#7 – Doubt Mark

Only the fifth contribution to this list created by Bazin.  This is quite the opposite of the certitude mark and denotes any doubt or uncertainty that is related to an utterance.  It can also be used to mark scepticism.  The glyph looks like a cross between the cursive question mark hook and the straight exclamation mark line.  USE:  “I thought they went home___”.

#8 – Authority Mark

The sixth and final contribution of Bazin on this list is the mark that denotes authority of the utterance’s speaker.  This can employ an extra layer of depth to a sentence, especially if it is only in written form, as it could give more weight to the intonation used.  It can also be used to inform of serious information or advice.  USE:  “It’s a shark!  Get out___”.

#9 – Sarcasm Mark

Also called a sarcmark, this is the only one on the list that is copyrighted and is done so by Apple.  Not sure why, guess they just like sarcasm?   So, as is a little obvious – really?  This glyph was intended for use where sarcasm is employed in statements and seen as a lot of people use this nuance of language, it seems almost like a given that we would have such a marker (especially in the UK).  Instead, we seem to use italics more than anything.  USE:  “I really love lockdown___”.

#10 – Exclamation and Question Comma

The exclamation mark and the question mark are highly useful graphemes that we all seem to know, but they can also be very annoying.  If fantasising that all of the previous proposed grammatical markers were in use (which you probably aren’t), this would mean an even greater array of information could be preserved in written form.  Doubling of utterance-final sentences markers, which include <. ! ? ‽ …> is not something that seems to be grammatically allowed in the structure of English and Romance orthographies, but the inclusion of these symbols enhances what we can do.  The question comma and the exclamation comma would expand the most basic intonations of loudness and questioning to positions that are utterance-medial or utterance-initial and would further the accuracy of the written orthography in terms of contextual information and clarity, only to greater spruce up written English with a little more grammatical diversity.  USE for !, :  “No___ I don’t want any.”; USE for ?, :  “Really___ they’ve already got some.”.

Overall, I think these markers are impressively detailed and useful in their function and that it is a shame that these never entered the orthography.  In a way, however, we do use emojis for including more contextual, emotional, and even intonational depth to our written communication on social media, so in a way, we are now doing this as it performs qualities of both satisfaction and efficiency.  Though, we could still use these as poetic variants in creative writing as emojis will likely look out of place there for at least a century or two – I know I’m about to use them!

Hasn’t it been a little difficult throughout this series when explaining differences in unfamiliar graphemes or glyphs?  Well, I have semi-followed the conventions set out in typography that details the anatomy of graphemes – which is next…

-DP, Linguistics student

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