Posted by: Jack Henry | June 25, 2020

Editor’s Corner: Bang, Bang, Interrobang!

Good morning, gang!

Not long ago, I shared information about the 14 English Punctuation Marks. I received a few responses that led me down an interesting rabbit hole.

Thanks to Phil R.’s response, I found out that there are a multitude of names for the exclamation point. Phil told me that UNIX programmers use the nickname bang. I’ve heard people use this term before, and I like it. Not only is it shorter, but it just feels right since this piece of punctuation indicates strong feelings or shouting.

I did a little research and found that there are quite a few other nicknames for the exclamation point. According to Wikipedia, printers use screamer, gasper, slammer, and startler. Hackers use bang and shriek. The Brits often use pling.

And then Jane G. wondered why the very cool interrobang (a combination of the question mark and exclamation point)wasn’t included in the list of English punctuation marks. And call me silly, but for the first time I thought about why it’s called interrobang: interro is short for interrogation point, another term for question mark, and bang as I just mentioned is a nickname for exclamation point.

Some typefaces superimpose the question mark and exclamation point, like this:But it’s very common to use the two marks next to each other like this: ?! or !?. It doesn’t matter which order you use.

And although we do use interrobangs in our more informal writing, it is still considered unconventional or nonstandard. So, you’re not going to see it in Episys eDocs,but you might see it in marketing material, and you can certainly use it in your casual text messages, tweets, IMs, emails, letters to Aunt Ola, and holiday cards.

You want some examples of common use of the interrobang? Of course you do!

  • You don’t like chocolate?!
  • What the heck are you talking about!?
  • You call that dancing, Donna?!

Enjoy another lovely day in paradise.

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

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