Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
h a l f b a k e r y
Recalculations place it at 0.4999.

idea: add, search, annotate, link, view, overview, recent, by name, random

meta: news, help, about, links, report a problem

account: browse anonymously, or get an account and write.



new punctuation marks

for broader rhetorical range
  (+11, -3)(+11, -3)
(+11, -3)
  [vote for,

The period, question mark, and exclamation mark don't cover enough ground. We need new punctuation marks to fit particular needs. Example 1: "You're something of an imbecile, aren't you" should, technically, end with a question mark - but this is not a question. Neither, however, is it a plain statement. It's a hybrid, and demands a sort of hybrid punctuation - the questment mark? Example 2: Crescendo/decrescendo marks would be really useful in circumstances where someone is getting angry (crescendo) or losing confidence (decrescendo). Example 3: Piano/pianissimo and forte/fortissimo marks. Example 4: Presto/largo/allegro, etc., marks. Example 5: Marks to demonstrate rhetorical intent: i.e., marks showing irony, withering sarcasm, etc. Example 6: Marks showing the speaker's emotion or dominant humour, i.e. the gaiety mark, the alcohol-induced schmaltz mark, the black bile mark, etc. Well, I could go on and on and on. Many of these marks could be borrowed from musical notation; I have designs for several hundred others. P.S. If anyone tells me that they already have these in Japan, I'm going to slug him.
cheeselikesubstance, Jul 14 2001

(?) interocommas? http://www.futurebi...mages/morepunch.gif
Some ideas of my own along these lines... [futurebird, Jul 14 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Lynne Truss: Eats, Shoots & Leaves http://www.amazon.c...os/ASIN/1592400876/
Cites this idea as an example of online discussion, rather than just disuse, of punctuation. (US hardcover version pg. 190 and 191.) [jutta, Oct 04 2004]


       Let's take this outside, UnaBubba[insert piano, largo, and intent-to-cow marks here]
cheeselikesubstance, Jul 14 2001

       [cheeselikesubstance] — "You're something of an imbecile, aren't you" should, technically, be written, "Something of an imbecile, are you not?" Your example would most likely be spoken, making the point of punctuation moot. Of course, if you have appropriately appointed flash cards handy...
The Military, Jul 14 2001

       Well some people like me don't always enjoy using proper grammer all the time as it makes a person seem stiff and uptight. I prefer to use colloquial speech generally.   

       Also - about the japanese having these punctuation marks - you can hardly write in english, the add an intricate symbol on the end. New symbols must be invented for this!
Zwe, Jul 14 2001

       They do have something like this in Japanese. Except theirs are actual syllables. Might we adopt something similar? Examples: ka- question, ne- solicits agreement, yo- exclamation, wa- meek question, et cetera. Therefore- "You're something of an imbecile, ne."
Malakh, Jul 14 2001

       The example offered - 'You're something of an imbecile, aren't you' - is most definitely a question, and therefore requires a question mark. This particular form of question does not require an answer and is thus a rhetorical question.
angel, Jul 15 2001

       Wouldn't rhetorical question marks be neat?
sirrobin, Jul 16 2001

       My critics are misguided.   

       Military, you miss the point that these marks would be nowhere more useful than in writing direct speech. Newspaper journalists, novelists, and playwrights would soon be unable to do without them. Imagine how, say, a Shakespeare or a Tolstoy could have jazzed up his writing with these little doodads!   

       Nucleus, emoticons are neither specific in meaning nor standardized. Also, their frivolous character is just not appropriate to every genre.   

       Malakh, you propose introducing new words. That may be a fine idea in itself, but punctuation is something different.   

       Angel, we know that question tags (rhetorical or not) take question marks under the current punctuation regime; I observed this in my proposal. My point is that a statement delivered in the form of a question can't really be considered to be either. Therefore it must be something else and deserves its own mark.   

       UnaBubba, I suggest that you take immediate charge of the cluck and whistle mark department.   

       C'mon, guys - give me those croissants!   

       PS to Futurebird, Mephista, and sirrobin: You guys definitely know where it's at!
cheeselikesubstance, Jul 16 2001

       Dang! If I can barely find the tilde key on my keyboard, how can I be expected to remember CTRL-SHIFT-5 is sarcastic sincerity? Someone will have to invent a new keyboard to accomodate all the new punctuation (how about a little add-on keypad for punctuation only, like a side-car?).   

       Mephista, my musical heart skipped a beat at the thought of having to score these frivolous ramblings of mine. Unfortunately, all the musical notation I learned in school has left me, but I do like the idea.
Canuck, Jul 16 2001

       Press "Punctuation" key, and a window with 700 choices pops up. Simply select with your mouse, close the window, and hit "Punctuation" again. Four or five seconds on the outside.
cheeselikesubstance, Jul 16 2001

       Great idea[!], but before we start inventing *new punctuation marks, let's all be ^pretty bloody sure we're making use of the ones we've *got, before we do anything *hasty. Doesn't the triple period signify the "decrescendo"? I say it does, it *must[!], but then, well, maybe/... \maybe not... \\O, I don't know... Two other punctuation marks are sorely neglected, anyway: for one, the colon seems to have seen better days; and the semi-colon is hardly ever used - seems like it's just *easier to use a dash whenever you want to chop a sentence up into semi-sentences.   

       Anyhoo, I nominate "^" for crescendo, / and \ to represent the tentativity of conditional moods - could be's and should be's and probably nots - and * for forte, because these all look like they should be punctuation, even if they aren't. And, /perhaps someone from the Continent can verify this,[...?] but I *believe interrogative statements in some languages are written with opening question marks (upside-down and reversed) as well as closing marks. (I believe it /may be Spanish, \but I could be talking rubbish). Since publishers obviously have the ability to print this symbol, a topsy-turvy "?" seems a good marker for rhetoric, don't you think? I believe it's actually in the extended ASCII character set.
Guy Fox, Jul 16 2001

       [cheeselikesubstance] (or may I call you cheese?): Your reply to my post is noted, and I withdraw any implicit criticism.
How would I decide the required mark for a sarcastic, self-effacing rhetorical question posed when I was drunk and maudlin?
angel, Jul 16 2001

       You've got the hang of it, Guy Fox! You're right, too, that we could be getting better mileage out of existing symbols. Too many permutations of the same old set would get confusing, though. We'll stretch them as far as we can, but then it will be beter to adopt my (proprietary) punctuation system. I have a good start here, but of course I can't show you what they look like while we're still limited by old-fashioned software.   

       Angel, you can call me anything you like, and when you're drunk and maudlin you can just plain call me.
cheeselikesubstance, Jul 16 2001

       BTW [A]ngel, I don't seem to have a sarcastic, self-effacing rhetorical question mark. Feel free to make that your territory. Also, you might see what you can do with drunken intonation marks.
cheeselikesubstance, Jul 16 2001

       Sarcastic, self-effacing rhetorical question posed when drunk and maudlin...   


       Sarcasm = "" Self-effacing = \ (pianissimo) Rhetorical = ASCII 191 (Upside down "?") Drunk = ^, * and ! (crescendo, stress and emphasis) Maudlin = \\...   


       You ^never *really "loved" me,... \\ya ole... *BAST'D!,... \\did ya[Chr(191)]...bu' then who would[Chr(191)!]
Guy Fox, Jul 16 2001

       Thank you; that clears everything up. What would I do without you¿
angel, Jul 16 2001

       Sorry! A rhetorical question mark allready exists - invented in the 16th Century, though only in use for about 30 years. When I find an example of it, I'll display it on this message board, in the meanwhile, a description will have to do:- It's just like the common question mark, though it is a mirror image of it - meaning it is rotated through the vertical axis (and not the horizontal axis, like the Spanish opening question mark; which this group has inaugerated as their new rhetorical question mark); therefore, the rhetorical question mark opens away from the question sentence, not towards it as the commonplace question mark of today does. Anyhow, I'll show an example of it on this message board soon...
Drifting Snowflake, Jan 06 2003

       Message board?
PeterSilly, Jan 06 2003

       Or what ever yu call this site...
Drifting Snowflake, Jan 08 2003

       We have a rhetorical question mark. It's called the period.   

       "You're a bloody moron, aren't you."   

       I think it works œwellœ enough?   

       œ characters could represent sincerity, or even probability of a follow-through to an assertion. Heh heh.   

       I personally am in favor of a retire of the apostrophe...
Vaelyn, Mar 14 2003

       Just saw that this idea got a mention in the book "Eats, Shoots & Leaves"
modular, Dec 28 2003

       Goodness gracious <grin>, this is what I use when I don't know what else to use. <smirk> I think it gets the point across. <raised eyebrows>, don't you?
pioneercynthia, Dec 28 2003

       We also desperately need a "breath" symbol, or "parencomma". E.G. The sentence:   

       It is neither the intention of this court of New Brunswick County of the State of Orleans nor the intention of any of the wordings of the miscellaneous treatises hereafter written and sworn to by the undersigned party or parties that the defendant should be released.   

       is hard to read. It is tempting to put commas after the words "Orleans" and "parties", but they would be grammatically wrong. So put parencommas there instead; they look like this: (,)
phundug, Dec 29 2003

       Isn't this what smilies are used for? And don't most sane* people hate those?   

       *by my own arbitrary definition
-alx, Dec 29 2003

       From a reading of "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" this evening I've learned that the commas started out as a pause marks for someone reading a text out loud. With the request to reinvent it phundug has come full circle.
jutta, Apr 24 2004

       phundug i believe legal documents lack punctuation to avoid ambiguity after all a missing . or , could change a sentence's meaning.
engineer1, Apr 26 2004

       (Or to *provide* ambiguity, so that contracts may be endorsed without refiling.)
phundug, Apr 27 2004

       DriftingSnowflake. Please do put an example on the 'Message board' for us.
Horsey, Jul 10 2004

       This article is mentioned in 'Eats, Shoots, and Leaves' by Lynne Truss. I first heard about the Halfbakery in that book, so this article has the indirect responsibility for bringing me here! Thank you.   

       As for the idea, it is very good, but I think that the new marks should be as unobtrusive as possible, like the current ones. The comma, full stop and others all enable you to read smoothly, but still whilst giving help.
dbmag9, Nov 12 2005

       All of the points about smilies (that they provide more expressive punctuation marks, that they are rather more advanced (or at least different) in Asia, and that they are reviled by many) point to what I think is the underlying problem: Punctuation, like many linguistic activities, is culturally determined. The main barriers to having more punctuation marks aren't technical; they are, rather, due to the conservative nature of language in general.   

       Because of the exponential number of combinations that can be created from the symbols we already have on our keyboards, we have more than enough technical capacity to have symbols for everything you could possibly think of. The trick is getting anyone to agree on what should mean what. The two dominant smiley systems-- Western :-) and Eastern O_o -- both approach this problem by creating an analogy, a law of transposition, between faces and the shapes of symbols. The silliness of this-- the reckless frame-jumping of it-- is one of the reasons why some people are repelled, but on the other hand it's the only strategy that's worked so far.   

       Linguistic communities don't take orders. You can lead them to water, but you can't make them drink. So it's probably best to start with what we've already got going, eh? :-)   

mungojelly, Nov 14 2005

       The sarcastimark is like an exclamation mark, but with two dots. Alsmost like this:   


       ...but shaped more like:   


not_only_but_also, Nov 15 2005

       <musings follow>
What about "rich" text in electronic contexts? Even ignoring typeface and size, the occasional application of bold, italic or underline -- staples of even the simplest word processors -- can enhance meaning and readability greatly.

       For applications such as email plain text might still be preferred, as many people (such as myself) still use text-only readers much of the time. But for web-based material, where browsers are either capable of rendering or ignoring rich-text markups, I think the push towards rich-text formatting for postings like these is often a good thing.   

       When handwriting, one has the option of being as stylised or as plain as is desired. When typesetting professional documents, again, that freedom is there. But the complication and expense of implementing a rich-text input for any site is incredibly difficult, and that's not even broaching the subject of the opposition many have to sullying a page of pure ASCII with weighted or slanted letters.   

       Of course, this is not completely irrational. With the increased expressive power of rich text comes the potential for abuse, and the conjugate to my claim that it can "enhance meaning and readability greatly," is that it can also completely destroy readability if used aggressively. But is overuse of, say, the bold feature any more or less annoying than similar plain-text techniques such as aLtErNaTiNg cApItAlIsAtIoN (I feel dirty), or the tactical nuke of all textual techniques: the dreaded L337 5p34|< (I need to wash...)?
Detly, Nov 17 2005

       [Detly], you have made me ritually unclean! I must now sit by myself in a small room made to the exact proportions of phi reciting the laws for useage of apostrophe.   

       You should be ashamed of yourself. You do need to wash.   

       :[ or o__o
dbmag9, Nov 18 2005

       I'm very dirty...
Detly, Nov 19 2005


back: main index

business  computer  culture  fashion  food  halfbakery  home  other  product  public  science  sport  vehicle