Interrobang The SarcMark

Sarcasm is an important part of post-modern culture (we’re living in the future!?), but it’s extremely difficult to pick up on in text-based communications. I’ve always thought that italics got the point across fairly clearly, and it also helps to talk to people who have a fucking bit of sense about sarcasm. “But,” you say, “there are so many assholes in the world who don’t read at all, let alone read sarcasm correctly!” Well, enter Paul Sak, who has invented a new punctuation mark to indicate when a sentence is supposed to be peppered with sarcasm. It’s called the SarcMark, and it looks like this:

I’m not sure when it became necessary to telegraph something as intrinsically subtle as sarcasm, but that’s besides the point: the SarcMark—from its name right down to its design—is wholly unattractive. It’s basically a period nested inside a circa mark, which has no intuitive meaning. It’s also not shaped like other punctuation; it’s squiggly and looks more like a corporate logo for an ice cream company. At best, it could be a punctuation mark indicating a hairy eye, although o_O has always worked just fine for me.

Worse yet—and I hope Sak and Co. are aware of this—a French poet tried to resurrect a similar and long-dead version of the same thing: the percontation point or the “rhetorical question mark.” The “irony mark” is way easier to intuit because it’s an affectation of an existing bit of punctuation. It looks like this:

It’s one of the more sane things Herve Bazin attempted to bring back into common usage, the crazier ones being a double exclamation point for “acclamation,” two question marks facing each other for “love,” and an upside-down exclamation point for “indignation.” And yet, for some reason, no one really considered bringing the interrobang back, although that probably has to do with the fact that one can just type “!?” and it doesn’t have any less impact for having two points instead of the one. The interrobang means the same thing as “!?” which is why they look exactly the same, and it’s worth its salt because we’re still using it. Unlike the percontation point and the SarcMark, which are both going to last forever.