Interrobang? That sounds sxarcy! That’s a poorman’s portmanteau (poorman’steau?) of “scary” and “sexy”. And, like most poorman’steaux, it’s strangely prophetically accurate.
An interrobang is the world’s sexiest punctuation mark. “What?” You clumsily ask? Ha, where’s the urgency? “What!” you exclaim? OK, sure, why not? Oh, that was a question? You wanted… an answer… or something? I don’t know, man… Uhh… Yeah?
Oh, was what you meant to say, “What‽“
“Hey, what’s that thing?” –What’re you, a dummy? Didn’t you see the title of this post?
“Hey, what’s that thing‽” –Now you’re cooking with gas!
I, as a writer of words, had long struggled with this phenomenon and found all the work-arounds clumsy. I never liked the multiple ?s and !s together, but, as an affectation, in high school I adopted the closing punctuation of (at that time) the greatest Roots’ album ever, the seminal Do You Want More?!!!??!
This, obviously, was rather unwieldy. And a rather stupid homage. And easy to get wrong, and thus meaningless. I then came to the conclusion, based on comic books and whatnot’s use of “!!!” that I don’t need any exclamation points to mark the exclamation, I could just write “???”! Genius! This was obvious, look how many there are! It must be exclaimed! But then, when I wrote something that someone read aloud, they just awkwardly added extra intonation raising at the end and I hated life.
Later, after abandoning that nonsense, I wrote a play called “WHAT?” as I felt that since caps equaled shouting, the exclamation was implied. But caps are a fickle creature. Sometimes they’re there, sometimes they’re not. Once you write something and someone copies it, you lost control of whether it’s bold or italic or capital. It’s dead to you. Or you to it. Whatever. If something is a headline or a title and it’s ALL IN CAPS, the next person coming along might use that title and put it in a sentence and think the capital part was just a title or headline convention, and not part of the original source, and then All In Caps looks weird and different and if you were attached to it you have to eat a lot of chocolate ice cream with Xanax chips to make it through the day. Which can be kinda fun…
The point of all this? That the interrobang is not useless. Many a person has yearned for a way to express this sentiment in written form. I was not the only lost soul, pining away for want of a wieldy manner to ‽ my heart out. The feeling I experienced when I found the interrobang, was the feeling of carrying around a lock for decades and walking smack into a key. It was like when I was 6 or 7 and first learned the word “sibling” — I had this idea, but the way to get it out was too hard, and then, lo! someone else had already devised a way. And now I knew it about it! O frabjous day!
The Interrobang is hopefully the first in a long line of future fusion punctuation marks.
A question mark with a dot that’s a comma instead of a period? “STUPID!” Shut up! No, it’s great.
“What am I, chopped liver?” vs. “What am I? Chopped liver?” vs. “What am I♦ chopped liver?” You get the idea. I don’t have the technology to put one here, but see how the ♦ (putative question mark-comma) would show the rising intonation marking a question at “I” in mid-sentence and, by not closing the sentence, prevent “chopped liver” from being a fragment?
Isn’t it time punctuation caught up with language as we use it, anyway? This is our next project. But first, interrobang your fucking hearts out. First one to use it in a legal document wins a prize.