“Interrobang!” he exclaimed.

Thinking constantly about negative events increases inflammation in the body, according to a 2013 study conducted by researchers at Ohio State University.

That does not fare well for me.

I accept this and hereby clear all negativity from my soul.  For my own health.

Don’t worry, I found a topic to write about that is so innocuous there’s no way it can get my blood pressure up.

Exclamation Points!  Or if you prefer, exclamation marks!

Some of these ideas were inspired by the Vox/Netflix series, Explained.  Each episode focuses on a different topic and “explains” it to the viewer in as much depth as is possible in a twenty-minute long show.

When the episode about exclamation marks came on, I almost turned it off.  It seemed uninteresting to me.  I haven’t had a drink in a few days, so almost everything seems that way.  Open-minded me decided to give it a chance.

And I’m glad I did!!! <–see what I did there?

In some ways, the exclamation point was the first emoji.  It was something you could slap on the end of a sentence to convey additional meaning.

Before the exclamation point, there were only two ways to end a sentence.  Period, aka, full stop, or question mark.

So where did the punctuator also known as “bang” come from?

Explained exclaimed it was claimed to be made by the Italian poet Iacopo Alpoleio da Urbisaglia in the fifteenth century!

That’s a long time ago!  What I found interesting about this particular symbol was how its usage has changed over time.  It used to be used for exclaiming something.  For example, this line from everyone’s favourite storybook:

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light!

Note that the exclamation points you find in the world’s most beloved fairytale were not put there by the original authors, but by those doing the various translations.  You may find this hard to believe, but the decision of whether something was simply “said” or “exclaimed” in our modern translations of the Bible was left up to man, not God.

The point is that in the old days, the exclamation point was used fairly sparingly.

Fast forward to the 20th century.  Explained explained that the use of the punctuator increased with the advent of several new art forms including comic books and print advertising.  The advertising industry got so carried away with exclamation points that they came up with new marks.

The interrobang (a cross between a question mark and an exclamation mark), was created in 1962 by Martin K. Spekter, a journalist-turned-ad man.

Some other marks that didn’t quite catch on over the years include the Rhetorical Question Mark, Irony Mark, Love Point, Acclamation Mark, Certitude Point, Double Point, Authority Point, SarcMark, SnarkMark, Asterism, Exclamation Comma, and Question Comma.  Credit goes to this article.

Do these remind you of anything?  They remind me of emoticons or emojis, which I ranted about at length, here.  Unlike emojis, the marks I listed above have not come into common use.  Not like the exclamation mark.  So the question is…

“To use or not to use an exclamation mark?!” That is the question!  The other question is, how many should I use?

When Explained asked a group of copywriters about it, their answers varied wildly.  One even said, “You get to use one exclamation point in your career.  Use it wisely.”  Others said they use them all the time.

The truth is, how much punctuation you sprinkle on your emails may depend on what gender you identify as.

This VICE article cites studies that show women use a lot more exclamation points than men.  Until yesterday I never imagined a sentence-ending glyph could be made into a gender issue.  It’s okay.  We are different.  We don’t have to end our sentences the same way!!!

If you’re into feminism, I would strongly suggest you check out the VICE article (but not because a man told you to).

The article centres around business communication and the idea that women are “damned if they do, and damned if they don’t” when it comes to the use of the punctuation symbol that exclaims.  In business, it is advantageous for a woman to be friendly, yet assertive, and in an email, the exclamation point is often the paintbrush that defines the line between the two.

For the collective:

In digital communication, we lack the non-verbal cues of a regular conversation.  We try to compensate with emojis and words like “LOL”, but are we really smiling ear-to-ear and “laughing out loud” that often?

I don’t LOL very often.  I don’t exclaim very often.  That doesn’t mean it is right or wrong.  I equate the constant LOL-ing I see with the exclamation point.  It could be used a lot less.  At the same time, writing is a style, and if your style is to use a lot of exclamation points, then go for it!!!  Just remember that symbols exist to convey meaning and when communicating non-verbally it is prudent to be cognizant of what we mean to say.

Besides, we don’t have to rely on one silly symbol to say what we mean!  We have a whole dictionary full of these other things that can do that much better.  And there are more being added every day!!!

31 thoughts on ““Interrobang!” he exclaimed.

  1. Howdy, Sheep! (I’m on PC today so Windows 10 apparently has a hedgehog but not a sheep in their emoji list😒)

    Interrobang…who would’ve thought there was a name for this “?!” It’s kinda like “&”, who named it ampersand? I dont know about you but I constantly talk like this in my house. Toddlers, boy

    Your post made me remember an episode of Ray Donovan where his father Mickey at the ripe old age of 75 going on 35, was penning a screenplay. Having been based off of his street life back in Boston, he knew it would be a hit! Well, the movie production company turned it down for too many exclamation points along with a shitty story. He said “how can one have too many exclamation points?!” I guess you can but what if someone yells or is excited all the time?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think if someone is yelling all the time, they could use exclamation point, or they could do what the YouTubers do and TYPE IN ALL CAPS.

      Today is your lucky day. Even though emojis are not my thing, I will help you with your Windows 10 issue. It’s hard to happily read your comment without the cute little sheep.

      Here’s what to do: If you type this “🐑” (Just the stuff inside the quotes), you will render a sheep in Windows.

      See… 🐑

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aww, 🐑(yay, I did it, Thanks) I knew it would grow on you!

        Typing in all caps is so frowned upon in many establishments but it serves such purpose. My mother when she was new to FB, wrote in caps all the time; she thought it was just easier to write this way, until it was explained to her that she was yelling.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Bands names are fun. Sometimes its literally random phrases put together and it works.

        It takes alot to get me to go a concert, they have to be someone who I’m dying to see. My first concert was Sade back in 2010 and you had to see her then because she only comes out every 15 yrs. It was awesome! Next, Jay Z & Kanye Watch the Throne, a couple of comedy shows, then last Marsha Ambrosius. That was my year of concert-ing. I’m worn out.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! I love it so much! All my thoughts deserve an exclamation mark!, but we have to have some self-control, don’t we?!

    Somehow it doesn’t surprise me, though, that this punctuation mark was given to us by an Italian.

    Regarding exclamation marks in the Bible, ancient Hebrew tends to use repetition for emphasis. The most famous example is “Holy, Holy, Holy,” but apparently there are lots of others, including one instance of “pit pits,” which is tentatively translated as “bitumen pits.”
    That deserves an emoji: 😀

    In my own fiction, I usually use exclamation points (and occasionally caps) only in dialogue.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      There was so much more I could have written about the exclamation mark. I read somewhere how it wasn’t included on the typewriter until 1970, so people would type a period, then backspace, then type an apostrophe to imitate it.

      Interesting fact about the Bible and bitumen.

      In my writing I mainly use the bang for dialogue if the character is yelling.

      Like

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