The most important thing that could happen would be for a popular auto-correct tool to start substituting it for '?!' and '!?'. MS Word would be ideal.
People would start to get familiar with it when reading other's works. And when authoring, people tend to treat auto-correct like an authority and learn from it. I suspect something similar happened with the ellipsis character in place of three periods.
I have a hunch it would catch on easier in the non-English markets, which may be slightly more accustomed to the inconvenience of using glyphs that aren't always available on every keyboard.
Next, it needs to be included in mobile keyboards. I don't know about iOS, but I can't find it in Gboard for Android.
We could start logging requests and submitting pull requests along those lines.
Now we may not want a viral event. No hashtag campaigns, lest we awaken a louder dissenting crowd. I think the Trojan Horse is a better strategy at first.
I don't know if you've ever played with a font like FiraCode, but it gives you both fancy typographical symbols and compatibility with existing compilers by defining purely-visual translations between certain sequences of characters and purpose-built glyphs. So for example '!=' is rendered as '≠', '=>' as '⇒', '>=' as '≥', etc.
See https://github.com/tonsky/FiraCode. They do go a bit overboard, IMO.
www isn't representing anything so a ligature doesn't make sense. Same with the comment ligatures, the << and <<< comparisons (shouldn't <> change to ≠?). Even the thinner escape \, which I understand the reasoning for, is probably overkill.
E.g. when I enable ligatures in Pillars of Eternity, it just makes all the prose look gorgeous.
These are all accessed by holding down keys on the number/punctuation view: ¢ ¯ — – ≈ ≠ ± ‡ † ‰ ÷ × « » ½ ¼ ⅛ ⅓ ⅔ ¾ ⅜ ² ³ ⁴ ⅝ ⁿ ⅞ • … ¿ ¡
They're not very discoverable like that.
Some are repeated, but these ones are on the second page of punctuation: § ¶ ° ¬ ~ © ® | ¦
I'm missing ‽ and a subscript 2 so I can write CO2 properly.
There, nested both types. I think that works.
But these aren't the same!?
I believe Reddit has tried it for years. Maybe they should have focused on auto correct.
Interesting the range of characters that are available in Gboard on my Android phone.
The counter  -- the open space between the vertical bar and the question mark curve -- is just too cramped ("‽"), so it's aesthetically unbalanced at large sizes, and just looks like a question mark with an accidental smudge at small sizes. It just doesn't "fit in" with any of the other glyphs of the alphabet, it's badly designed.
I.e. "there" and "theater" are two different "th"'s.
 English speakers: if you pay attention to how you speak those two words you'll notice that your tongue is doing different things to make those two "th" sounds. This is a weird "archaeo-linguistic" holdover in your "motor-culture". In a certain sense, "you" always knew this but didn't know you knew.
ð ("eth", voiced) and þ ("thorn", unvoiced). So you could write "ðere" and "þeater", for words that sound correct but don't make any sense in either language. :)
Fun fact, thorn is the reason for today's archaic phrase "Ye olde", which was always pronounced "The old". Print shops didn't have a thorn character, so they substituted y instead. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorn_(letter)
* Kind of a tangent, but I'm also fascinated by Icelandic's unvoiced nasal fricative, a sound we don't have in English, and something that seems hard to do when you have a cold or runny nose.
Does any such pair exist?
- "thy" and "thigh"
- "either" and "ether"
But "ether" can only be pronounced with unvoiced "th". If you pronounce it voiced, that would be very unusual. Are you sure? Check out:
Before you said you use "thy" for both, which is voiced. So you say "aythur" like "Arthur" for the word either?
Also found this, which agrees with yours and adds teethe::teeth, and wreathe::wreath.
But teeth/teethe is another good one! As for wreathe, that too... I didn't even know that was a word. :)
?! (Dubious move)
!? (Interesting move)
! (Good move)
‼ (Brilliant move)
To me, the first one is the immediate response, so a dubious move might look exciting at first but then you realize its problematic aspect, so !? would be the sequence.
Anyway, we have a convenient convention that works with what we have: lay out the sentence as a question, but end it with the exclamation point. Isn't that a simple fix!
Is a much more readable example I think.
According to Wikipedia, spaces weren't added because:
(1) Free form of speech is so continuous, adding inaudible spaces to manuscripts would have been considered illogical.
(2) At a time when ink and papyrus were quite costly, adding spaces would be an unnecessary waste of such writing mediums.
(3) Typically, the reader of the text was a trained performer, who would have already memorized the content and breaks of the script, so the scroll acted as a cue sheet and did not require in-depth reading.
I'm not convinced by reason #1 because words are distinct even in speech. No matter how fast or continuous your speech when you say, "The dog jumped", everyone will agree that "dog" is a distinct thing, even if you're illiterate. It seems quite logical to separate "dog" from the words before and after when you write.
Reason #2 sounds barely believable. I'm thinking that #3 must have been the main reason. Anyone have more insight?
Clearly you've never tried to learn a second language?
Word segmentation is a very difficult task for non-native speakers. Segmentation failure is a common error in children learning for the first time.
The word breaks are only obvious to you because you've had decades of daily practice parsing them. Look at a speech stream as a waveform or spectrogram, and they vanish: they are objectively not there.
What I was trying to say is that, assuming you speak the language, you will recognize "dog" a separate ‘ thing’ in a sentence. If I point to a German Shepherd asking what that is, anyone who speaks English can reply "dog". It can't be shorter; it could be longer but then you're adding information ("big dog").
Even illiterate people know "dog" as a distinct ‘ thing’. Since even spoken words are distinct concepts, with a beginning and end, and having boundaries (even if the speech waveform looks continuous), it seems natural to show the boundaries (eg., by placing spaces) if you going to starting writing down the words.
Well, we know the spaces weren't added in early writing, by why not? Wikipedia's reason #1 is that adding inaudible spaces would be illogical. I'm not convinced that that was the main reason. The other reasons seem more plausible.
The statement/question "Clearly you've never tried to learn a second language?" is an expression pattern I see frequently. A statement ended with a question mark.
Perhaps it was meant to be intentionally cheeky? Which would be funny, if I knew to interpret it that way. A /s would make this more obvious to me
Or possibly, the sentence was started based on an assumption. This was realized part way through, then a ? was tacked on at the end?
Is there another way to interpret this expression that I am not aware of?
Assumptions of others' knowledge seems to be commonplace, yet we seem to still convey ideas somewhat decently. "Rum and Coke" vs "Roman Coke". Maybe Roman's love their rum and Coke? Either way, odds are, I'll receive the correct drink.
In regards to the original article. Here are my assumptions.
I perceive a sentence as a train-of-connected-thoughts that conveys an actional expression of a person's experience, as well as their attached feelings to that experience. In that regard, I similarly view any attached grammar.
"The dog did a backflip?!" - A person receives data of an experience, first checks it's validity, realizes it falls outside their current understanding of possibility, then proceeds to double-check that they received the data correctly
> Receiver of data: "Wait, did I hear that correctly?"
"The dog did a backflip!?" - A person receives data of an experience, first accepts it (likely first-hand or from a reliable source), then realizes it falls outside their current understanding of possibility based on other reinforced models of reality, and proceeds to doubt said data)
> Receiver of data: "I didn't believe my own eyes!"
"The dog did a backflip‽" - A person doesn't have a preconceived notion for the data they are receiving, and has received it in a way that conveys that it is extraordinary - conveyed below
> Presenter of data: "The dog did a backflip!"
> Receiver of data: "Do dogs not usually do backflips?"
Feel free to correct me if I am wrong
Segmenting words is actually a quite complex cognitive task that takes a while to acquire, usually considered in the framework of statistical learning.
Another aspect here is that the concept of a word is somewhat fuzzy, with compound words emerging quite naturally, particularly in some languages. For relatively recent examples of compounds in English, consider "website" and "cellphone" (both of which are now, as a separate step, gradually becoming the default meanings of "site" and "phone").
So I don't find it too surprising that once upon a time word segmentation was even more flexible.
Not in all languages. Lookup "liaison" in French, e.g. (and a not uncommon complaint of people learning French is that they can't separate the words in spoken speech).
Try saying "Hangdogears". Is it "hangdog ears" is it "hang dog ears" is it "hang dogears".
(hangdog = guilty visage; dogears = folded page corners)
Try it on someone else and see how they interpret it.
I suspect a major reason not listed is inertia: people were used to reading without spaces between words, and never considered the alternative. With some help from reason #2, the increased cost.
But languages are never completely logical. There are planty of writing systems where there are no breaks between words. Some of the ones I can think of includes Thai, Korean and Chinese.
Perhaps you only spend time around trained actors who enunciate their speech. Because let me tell to most people I know ramble their speech into one long string of sounds. Go listen to a recording of a language you know nothing about and tell me what the words are. Oh, and not a news cast, but everyday conversation between friends having a good time.
You speak English so you know it's "the dog jumped" and not "thud awgjumpt." But if you yell both of those quickly there's not any difference.
What a fail! Perfect opportunity missed to use the word "boustrophedon": and in the matching historic context, too.
For any aspiring interrobangers, one thing that helps make them easier to use is to set up text replacements. I have replacements setup on my phone and computers to replace “?!” and “!?” with “‽” automatically.
?! is about first questioning and then usually being angry.
!? is about first having strong feelings and then questioning their origins.
So for me WTF would usually be followed by ?! but maybe it's just me.
WTF?! with an emphasis on the question means you lack information about the subject, WTF!? with an emphasis on the exclamation means you know what occurred but you're expressing shock/outrage.
E.g. the first version is "I don't know what just happened" and the second is "I can't believe what just happened".
With an interrobang there's no way of expressing both versions.
(alert(null) ‽ console.log(error));
(x === null ? console.log(error) : alert(x));
Meanwhile the interrobang (‽) would really be an Easter egg.
// Would run console.error with the Error object
(alert(x) ?: console.error);
Shockingly, this is actually accepted by GCC's C dialect! And PHP! By the simple implementation expedient of making the second operand of the ternary operator optional.
(Ah, HN strips emoji away from comments).
To me there is a subtle difference, emphasizing the punctuation that comes first.
If so, maybe we should just accept as standard using two punctuation and allow context or intent to determine ordering.