Punctuating Ironic Questions

How could it possibly confuse you⸮ The irony mark makes everything clear⸮

If you didn’t get it, I’ve just expressed two ironic thoughts about a symbol called the irony mark, written as a reversed question mark.  The symbol is meant to indicate the presence of irony or sarcasm, qualities that are not always obvious to all parties in an exchange.

While its aim is to add clarity to communication, the symbol introduces various kinds of ambiguity; the symbol itself is ironic because it achieves the opposite of its apparent goal.  In a separate post, I will explore that paradox; here, I would just like to propose a “fix” to one small aspect of the irony mark’s ambiguity.

The problem I have in mind is that the irony mark does not distinguish between statements and questions. You’ll notice that I began this post with an ironic question: “How could it possibly confuse you⸮”  Next, I made an ironic statement: “The irony mark makes everything clear⸮”  In both cases I was “forced” to terminate my sentence with the same piece of punctuation. As you can see, the irony mark has clobbered the reassuring distinction between “?” and “.”

To prevent such ambiguity, I propose that we reserve the irony mark for statements, and splice the irony mark with a normal question mark to indicate questions.

My logic is as follows:


This, for example, is how one would ask an ironic question about the presence of irony:


And this is how one would sarcastically question my font choice:


One thought on “Punctuating Ironic Questions

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