Interrobang - interrogative (aka a question) + bang (type jargon for an exclamation point)

Interrobang fans can take heart, however; the sign is not so dead that it isn't in the Unicode standard. You can find it at U+203D.

If you have a browser macho enough to handle it:


Addition 20 December 2003:

tetrisboy admits to having a pussy browser, so here we throw together an ASCII rendering of said character:

                       *****
                     *********
                    ***    ****
                    **   *   ***
                        ***  ***
                        ***  ***
                        ***  ***  
                        ******
                        ****
                        ***
                        ***
                         
                         *
                        ***
                         * 

In some fonts the top of the ! intersects the top of the ? but for clarity we're using a shortened bang.

Named for the punctuation mark of the same name, Interrobang (or ) was also the name of a college humor magazine published at Oberlin College during the late 1970s. The magazine was similar in tone and content to the Harvard Lampoon, which later gave rise to the National Lampoon in all its various incarnations.

History

The interrobang, the relatively young punctuation mark created in 1962, is the brainchild of Martin K. Speckter. Speckter, head of a New York advertising agency, realized that a huge gap existed in English punctuation; it was impossible to express both a question and an exclamation at the same time. In order to express this exclamatory disbelief, he introduced the interrobang to the world with an article he published in his magazine Type Talks.

The interrobang became an instant hit. Many people began mailing the magazine their own personal graphic designs for it. The media also became enamored with it; an editorial by The Wall Street Journal declared that the new punctuation mark was perfect for, "'Who forgot to put gas in the car?' where the question mark alone just isn't adequate."

The interrobang craze also caught on in the typewriter making industry. In 1966, American Type Founders released a metal typeface called Americana which included the interrobang. Two years later, Remington Rand included an interrobang key as an option on its typewriters.

Unfortunately, the hype surrounding the new punctuation mark eventually died down. Sadly, it has fallen out of general use. The two consolations for interrobang lovers are its existence as a Unicode character set, U+203D, and as a character in Microsoft Word's Wingdings 2 font.

sources:

  • http://www.interrobang-mks.com
  • http://www.quinion.com
  • http://www.unipad.org

Spekter actually gave a great deal of thought to naming his new punctuation mark. The runners-up names included exclamaquest, exclarotive and rhet. Exclamaquest and interrobang were particular favorites of Spekter.

The interrobang is also a particularly concise way of writing out traditional Yiddish sarcasm, e.g. "Nu, you call this a dinner‽" or "My grandson is going to be a pediatric gynecologist‽ This is a profession‽"

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