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A collection of non-standard punctuation marks (progressivepunctuation.com)
92 points by leichtgewicht on Oct 10, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 87 comments

On a congruent note, California flops on compulsory English[1], the expressive void of the interwebs yawns at over a thousand emoji code points[2], and people actually think it's a great idea to champion patented punctuation marks[3] in everyday grammar. Can this guy[4] even spell his name yet?

[1] https://outline.com/Gea52v

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emoji

[3] https://www.google.com/patents/USD608820

[4] https://modelviewculture.com/pieces/i-can-text-you-a-pile-of...

[4] was interesting to read, but he doesn't actually show how his name should be written and what it looks like instead. So I'm left to wonder whether it's like the example of ত (Bengali letter ta), ্ (Bengali sign virama) and ‍(zero width joiner) combining to yield ৎ (Bengali letter khanda ta). That shouldn't be a problem for end users, if keyboards and rendering engines correctly implement the Unicode standard. That is no different than other combining marks required e.g. for accented letters in Latin alphabets. (In this case, the committee apparently determined that khanda ta was different enough to warrant it's own encoding.) I don't think Unicode needs to deal with the question of how the standardized characters will be entered. (Emoji input isn't standardized either.)

Just to be clear, that patent is a Design Patent, 15 years. It’s the first time I have ever seen a Design Patent mentioned in the wild. So the only remaining item on my IP punch list is a plant patent. As much as I admire Luther Burbank, asexually reproduced plants didn't need their own category.

So there's nothing patented under 35 U.S.C. 161 (Plant Patents)?


I think gp is looking for the patent to be mentioned elsewhere, not simply a patent as registered.

It's actually a version of bingo!

In chess, !? is interesting and ?! is dubious. So I suppose the interrobang, ‽, is WTF.

Proposals for an irony punctuation sign have been around since late nineteenth century. Stylistically, I prefer this relatively recent Dutch proposal¹.

But, as noted in the wikipedia articles, some feel that explicitly indicating when text is meant ironically defeats its purpose; irony is supposed to make you think.

1: The 'Het ironieteken van de CPNB' one the right: https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ironieteken

"But, as noted in the wikipedia articles, some feel that explicitly indicating when text is meant ironically defeats its purpose"

Is that, in itself, irony?

I've seen these "non-standard" ones in practice:

?! - Shock and confusion "Apple did what?!"

/s - Sarcasm "wow, I'm happy /s"

(?) - Doubt "I think Mark said we was done (?)"


(!) - Drawing extra attention, maybe belittling: "He wore sandals(!)"

sort of related: it drives me crazy when people use a question mark to show doubt, (sometimes sarcastically), instead of to ask a question. i've never seen (?) before, but i see "i think mark said he was done?", a lot.

even though it drives me crazy, it shows that special punctuation is unnecessary. people can just keep doing that awful thing, and there's no real ambiguity.

Many people raise the pitch of their voice as if asking a question when saying something doubtfully, so the question mark reads similarly to how one would say it out loud.

If you have access to formatting, a similar way of achieving the same thing would be to italicise "think"

I occasionally use interrobang (?! - not sure if there is a unicode character), but the rest seem quite useless.

Also, this site doesn't let you copy text...WTF developers?

There is ‽ - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interrobang

> this site doesn't let you copy text

Being generous here, presumably people still pull this kind of ridiculous crap to prevent uninformed users from "stealing" their IP. I guess they must be smart enough to know that if it's rendering as text, anyone can access and copy it.

It's a site where they are sharing a new idea that they want people to adopt..and so naturally they try and restrict the ability to copy and share it. Makes sense.

They're using SVG

They have purposely disabled being able to select text (outside of the SVG graphics) by literally doing this in CSS:

    * {
        user-select: none;
The user-select: none; is intended for places where interaction with an element (e.g., drag and drop, clicking, sliding) is required and text selection should not occur. You might use it discretely on a HTML button.

Blanket banning of text selection is a habit I've seen with developers who live in a touchscreen-heavy bubble, and who feel that users have no reason to select text at all unless explicitly enabled by the developer.

> As citizens of the technology era, there is an undeniable need for optimal clarity in our writing.

There, I copied that quote from their website (by disabling the relevant CSS); one example of a totally valid reason for wanting to select text.

I've noticed that I'm unable to select text in facebook posts in the browser on my phone. Quite irritating.

Right, the symbols are SVG but not rest of the text.

They're using SVG because support for these non-standard punctuation varies across browsers and OS's, so its safest to use an image.

Many sites presenting informational content about unicode content do the same, as they cannot presume the user will see the unicode symbols rendered natively in their browser.

We're talking about all of the regular text on the site, not those dozen symbols.

I'd use a question comma, there are often times where I'll phrase a question and then expound on some deeper specifics - generally things that I would consider implied, but that many people would miss, leading to the misinterpretation of the question.

Essentially everything (for me, at least) after the question comma is generally parenthetic in nature.

Are you sure you want to do that? You're going to break your legs.

Having thought a bit about it, I'd say it's the question version of a semi-colon.

All the examples of question comma on the site can easily be written as two sentences though.

And most sentences with a semi-colon could also; it's often a matter of personal preference without well-defined fixed rules.

> And most sentences with a semi-colon could also

Well, yeah, since the difference between a comma and a semi-colon is the latter joins independent clauses, it is necessarily the case that any semi-colon use for joining (as opposed to its use in, e.g., lists) can be replaced by a period, you just lose the indication that the two independent clauses are tightly associated.

a question mark doesn't have to end a sentence. such a question mark is often used to separate a succession of questions that all elaborate one idea. it used to be more common, but i know as recently as 1991 ursula le guin used it in the story "Texts", ("Whatever those eleven years had been, the length of a marriage? a child's life? they were gone"...)

most of those marks only have any cause to exist at all because people are so stuffy about punctuation, unless you wrote "The Dispossessed."

The page somehow disables text selection. (Couldn't figure it out from briefly looking at the DOM inspector.) This behavior is rather annoying and unnecessary, as I was trying to quote some pieces of text to share.


{ user-select: none; }

iPhone auto replaces !? with interrobang.

Yeah, there is a unicode character: ‽

Sarcasm would be extremely useful.

Try covering up the names of these while guessing what each is supposed to symbolize. Personally, I found some of these to be rather unintuitive and sometimes arbitrary.

Would exclamation or question marks be intuitive if we'd never seen them before? Not that I think we should be adding more punctuation, but I don't know that we use '?' to question because it naturally looks like it's questioning something.

Interesting. I hadn't previously thought about the form of those punctuation marks.

Upon looking at them, a dot intuitively ends a sentence. A dot with a line intuitively ends a sentence with emphasis, and a dot with a meandering line questions.

From that perspective a question mark really does indicate uncertainty and possibly a question.

This is the same excuse I use to avoid learning Japanese. Just a bunch of unintuitive arbitrary characters!

Welcome to orthography.

They're not real. It's a joke.

People have been proposing some of these for a long time (nearly 400 years)


Yes. But that doesn't make it less of a joke.

The best part of the joke is that we are standardizing at `/s`.

The interrobang is real, but that's the only one I think.

It's not real. The symbol might be attributed some meaning, but it's not real punctuation and definitely shouldn't be.

Define "real"

Wow. It didn't take long to go from punctuation to philosophy.

It's been in use for about a half century; it's typically described as “nonstandard”, though given the absence of a standards body for English it's not clear what that means.

It's definitely “real” in the sense of being in actual use in the wild with a clear and well-understood meaning.

People use it; it's real.

Real or not the Sarcmarc would help sooo much.

Don't people already use /s for this?

They do and I think its an argument for the sarcmark.

On the other hand, I can type "/s" with my keyboard right now and it's not copyrighted.

Still people type the ‽ all over this thread (can't handle Windows without the awesome WinCompose)…

No it wouldn't.

It'd help as much as a new meme on the internet helps the world.

Cool ideas, would love to see more... but this site itself seems unfortunately over-designed to me.

It's a slideshow-style listicle (These 10 Punctuation Marks Will Blow Your Mind!), forces you to click to the next one, and makes you scroll to see an example usage for each punctuation mark.

The idea is very interesting, but the animation is too much. I had to close it.

Why won't this scroll? Page doesn't work really on my iPhone 6se.

and makes my screen look really dirty.

Yeah, I views on a laptop and thought something smudged my screen...

It's this: http://progressivepunctuation.com/assets/img/concrete-wall-h...

It does some weird parallax-effect when scrolling, which I assume uses JavaScript, so if that has some error in it somewhere, it's possible that it breaks scrolling completely.

Some years ago I made the case for an interrocolon, the purpose of which I do not see addressed in that list: "when the direct object of an interrogative statement references an example, a URL or another statement in a follow-on block of text". I encounter uses for this all the time especially when texting.


What can this do that emojis can't?

Emoji are cute. Maybe the Japanese word for cute (可愛い) might grasp the concept a little better, but they are _something_ which should be fairly universally recognizable.

They fit in a certain kind of personal communication, and maybe horrifyingly into some literature, but they don't fit in a lot of places.

I'm ok using emoji with my girlfriend or if I'm trying to be sarcastic or ridiculous, but that's a rather narrow set of my communication. In short it's difficult to show decorum and use emoji. There's nothing wrong with silliness unless you can't do anything else.

We are in a situation where written language use is different and more extensive than days past and it's weakness in English shows. It's difficult to express yourself properly in many situations and while emoji are one way, little cute pictures don't fit the communication gaps.

Nothing, because they aren't different things.

(the characters are more abstract than most emoji, but only most)

I can't think of a corresponding emoji for many of these, like sarcasm, certitude, snark (maybe the one with its tongue sticking out?), doubt, irony, etc.

It's not an emoji, but as a similar sentence-ending mark, you often see /s used to indicate sarcasm. Similarly, "Kappa" may not be very popular outside a certain subculture, but it's very recognizable as snark at Twitch and adjacent communities.

We are lacking emoji for many important emotions, but IMO we should fix that by adding emoji. I think emoji are much more aligned with natural modes of human expression than punctuation marks are.

Is it a problem to have more than one way to express things?

Be more precise. Emojis are ambiguous, especially cross-culturally.

Actually blend with the text instead of sticking out like a sore thumb.


The Artist Formerly And Then Again Known As Prince had his own single-character font just for rendering His Symbol, and his PR company send around copies of a floppy disk with Windows and Mac versions of the font, along with these instructions for writing about him:




How many of these are part of Unicode?

The download link just a font that uses the Unicode Private Use Area to display each of these glyphs, which is particularly disappointing for interrobang which I know has an entry at U+203D, but I'm not sure about the rest of them?

It seems people want a way to express emotion in something like a side-channel. Interpunction is fine for that, however we can't pronounce interpunction by itself and second interpunction can be placed only at specific points in the sentence (usually at the end). Emoji can be placed everywhere, however emojis can't be spoken out loud.

Lojban, a constructed language, has a very interesting feature: attitudinals: https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Lojban/Attitudinals

An example from Wikipedia:

mlatu .ui (a cat! yay!)

English has also attitudinals however they belong to informal speech.

Like it or not, the "friendly period" punctuation already exists :)

And it was organically and democratically determined.

Yeah that's definitely a musical symbol.

Much punctuation evolved organically from scribal shorthand. On the internet, I can see a contraction of /s into a symbol being one of the likeliest candidates for turning into punctuation.

And that's as formal as someone being labelled a 'troll'.

None of the internet's fads or memes deserve to be preserved in punctuation rules. This is a joke.

How can someone seriously propose I put a copyrighted symbol in my text to let them know it's sarcastic? [rhetorical question device] I'll bet the world will be a better place if they profit off every sarcastic sentence someone writes. [sarcastic sentence device] If you're too dumb to work out what's sarcastic, why should you benefit from my help? [friendly period]

(nb. There's a missing "sarcastic sentence device", but I don't know where to put it, when it applies to a piece of punctuation.)

This site design is beautiful---in static form. The animations are utterly unnecessary though and detract from the presentation as well as get repetitive when scrolling from item to item.

Please don't show this page to Larry Wall.

Years ago I wrote a perfectly reasonable comment like /* WTF??!?!!?!???? */ and the old C compiler complained about "invalid trigraph". A syntax error in the middle of a comment!

Took me a while to figure out that "trigraph" was referring to some part of "??!?!!?!????" and not "WTF".

A couple of these reminded me of musical symbols I'd see on staffs and so they were already associated with something in my mind and couldn't be re-associated with whatever the authors wanted.

Aw hell, I'll just mark up my text with a bunch of musical punctuation. Throw pianos and fortes all over everything.

The interrobang is in notable use; of the rest, the question/exclamation commas would be useful and so clear in intent that I'd adopt them immediately if they were widely supported (fonts and keyboards.)

Percontation is vastly underrated.

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