Irony Mark???

Choz Cunningham's picture

Update: The post has been altered to reflect a name change in the proposed ligature.

Latest posts discuss drafts of User's Guide and Design Recommendation document.

From another thread:

Q.
NigellaL: What in the bloody hell is an ‘irony mark’????????

A.
The Greatest Punctuation in the History of Mankind.~

Long A.
I've been waiting for someone to bite on this. The Snark* (formerly 'irony mark') is a proposed sentence terminator designed to imply a second, often sarcastic, or otherwise verbally ironic, meaning to the preceding text. Intended use is where the intimation of the second meaning might otherwise be lost, because of missing vocal inflection, or other missing contextual hints. This means it is intended to be sparingly used, and normally in informal communications.

This is based on the 19th-21st century ideas of the "point d’ironie" (proposed by the French poet Alcanter de Brahm and, later, Hervé Bazin)and the "sarcasm mark" (proposed by Tara Liloia, Josh Greenman and many others). I suggest one marker for both contexts, and I consider the term "Snark" more inclusive.

The Snark, in this suggested format, looks something like an exclamation mark, laid on its side and bred with a tilde, modified to suit the typeface it is in.

The mark is in redesign status, discussed in thread below.
---


Quick & dirty examples in two common faces.
--

Past suggestions from others have included a reversed question mark, an inverted exclamation, and braketing the statement with any/all rarely used ascii characters. My proposal offers several advantages other proposals have thus far lacked:

    It is distinct, and the appearance may be suggestive of a wry, caustic, deadpan or mock-serious intonation. (An exclamation- "knocked over"?)
    It is familiar to those who follow the convention of enclosing sarcastic remarks in tildes in text chat programs, one of many competing popular conventions.
    It doesn't give away any note of sarcasm until the end of the passage, which may support more comedic timing.
    Similar markings are not in use currently, in any Latin-alphabet writing system (as far as I know), so it is unlikely to be confused with other punctuation. The Ethiopian use of '¡' is unlikely to get mixed with Spanish text, but in U.S. English, this may get confused, in bilingual work, with a Spanish '¡' preceding the next sentence.
    Despite its distinctness, it is simple to draw and read, making it more adoptable.
    The wavy stroke is reminiscent of the ':S' emoticon used sometimes to denote a glum or mixed emotion.
    It is very easy to roughly emulate in any text by typing a period followed by a tilde. This glyph pair is also devoid of other meanings. I find this to be the nicest feature.
    An OpenType aware application can catch the '.'+'~' pair and automatically substitute the (inherently) similar looking Snark, making it potentially very simple to adopt. I predict OpenType features in non-typographic applications will become the norm. (Office 2015?)

At this time, I have included the character in all current !Exclamachine branded typefaces, and plan to continue to do so, as well as add it to old ones. A design guide is available at : http://www.exclamachine.com/snark showing how I have adopted it to several very different decorative faces, and what I would consider essential to making one. I will add the OT code I use for automatic replacement of the '.'+'~' string tomorrow. I encourage other designers, if they please, to consider this, and perhaps add it to their fonts. I envision someday requesting inclusion in the Unicode standard, as does Kevin Larson (for the French design). Why not? Interrobang made it, and that's just an ambiguous ligature.

Relevant links (To make this look official & important.~):
http://www.liloia.com/archives/000211.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony_mark

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarcasm_mark

http://linusfurious.blogspot.com/2006/04/punctuational-proposal.html

http://blogs.msdn.com/fontblog/archive/2006/01/04/509299.aspx

http://www.pointdironie.com/

http://www.slate.com/id/2111172/fr/ifr

http://blogs.msdn.com/fontblog/archive/2005/12/22/506936.aspx

http://www.exclamachine.com/snark

*name proposed by Geo Ben. All those in favor say 'aye.' Good. -Choz

Choz Cunningham's picture

Aside from unofficial concensus, what ways might be a good way to settle amongst the designs here?

Eben: Whether you, or I, "like it" matters, for the mark is still at a formative stage. In essence, I am promoting the use the existing tilde for some purpose at all, aside from programming or mathematics, since we are stuck with it in the basic ASCII glyphs forever, and immense hardware and software support. To strengthen it's use, I propose adding the irony mark to typefaces, essentially as a nicer adaptation, where one wants it to look prettier or more flowing. Meanwhile, others are independently developing and applying a similar mark. That's why I brought it up here, amongst those most likely to care about that component and able to do something about it, before something dorkier is adopted.

From a digital type vocabulary view, I think I am suggesting support for a unique character that is a ligature of two existing glyphs. I think that the tilde alone(no period) looks awful!) Anyone familiar with Unicode's design philosophy is welcome to correct my description.

biddy: No. 4 might make a nice fancy alternate, or one of several with the descended tilde in different places? That might be a bit much for now. At the moment, I am leaning towards something along the lines of No. 2, as it seems like (for now) the healthiest compromise of:

tilde-ness,
pleasant flow in body copy
standalone* or end-of-line use
clarity or legibility from other marks
adequate visual connotation

Are there other factors we should consider?

*I can totally see this mark useful on it's own as a, "Tell me that you are kidding!", "No way-you aren't serious!?", or as an anti-exclamation vibe, in a balloon over a cartoon character's head.
(P. 1: Jon says something sappy. P. 2: Garfield thinks, ".~")

Ben (George?)
There's an "insert image" graphic text below the comment input box, that lets you pick a file from your local computer, then stores it on the Typo...com server and puts a bracketed link to it at the end of whatever you've typed in the comment box. This can then be moved to wherever you want it to appear. The links you put work just fine as well, though.

The proposals you put up look pretty good. It is unambigously not an ellipsis, question mark or other sentence terminator, and the final curl may lead into the next line well. Do you imagine this looking different in seriffed fonts? We should probably examine it in body text, so I think i will doodle a bit on that late tonight. Because the tilde does nothing else that a normal English speaker might come across, I don't suppose having the look of the two overlapping is a bad thing. Plus, the designs ideas of the existing tilde can be drawn upon.

"Snark" has been suggested as a 'typographer jargon'-nickname previously by a commenter on Greenman's article suggesting borrowing the inverted exclamation point from Ethiopian script. I think this might be a great primary name, or an endearing pet name. I'm also partial to "Zing". To compare, the forward slash is also known as a solidus, slant, stoke, scratch or any of a handful of other names.

Geo Ben: it would appear that your idea is growing legs

This is hardly my idea. I drew this most heavily from the proposal by the blogging couple @ liloia.com. I was just motivated to try and pre-empt the masses from any use of a preceeding mark, as that variation galls me so much that it puts me in the camp of the most cynical responses in this thread. Then, I thought, lets all make this look a little better, by involving the both-sides-of-the-brain type gurus here.

Choz Cunningham
!Exclamachine Type Foundry
http://www.exclamachine.com

Geo Ben's picture

Chozz,

yes, George (or Geo or Ben.... they are all used in various fora)

it is a Flash button... thanks. I normally have flashed turned off because i find the flashing ads annoying.

Well, it is your idea here. And i actualy do not think that the variations i played with help you in the end, as one of your proposals was that the design allow for it's use in instances where the reader (as in an online media like this) lacks the specific character. The two char solution would be the only resort in those cases.

Pity... i thought Snark was a pretty clever solution, its implicit irony when ya think of Caroll and his works.

oh well.

geo.

Choz Cunningham's picture

I appreciate brevity more than the readers of this thread might imagine. You are right: Carroll's writing is too fitting to not pay an homage to with the double entendre. With whatever officialness I am granted, let's now refer to it as a 'snark'. When people ask us what on earth we are talking about, we can look at them as if they are hopelessly out of touch and reply, "Duh! An irony mark."

Choz Cunningham
!Exclamachine Type Foundry
http://www.exclamachine.com

brampitoyo's picture

Yes! Snobbishness!

Anyways, wow that I see that the dot and tilde can be integrated well, I like the last example. But your 1st glyph also deserve a honor. Have you tried to actually drawing it with a broad nibbed pen, Mr. Cunningham?

Choz Cunningham's picture

Should I ever again molest an innocent page with a broadnib pen, it would be a torture to the ink, a humilation to the pen, and completely denied by me on any public occasion. All my lettters are drawn directly into a computer, or inked/painted/drawn with a variety of nontraditional media and scanned.

I have been surfing the net for articles about irony marks, and seeding the idea of the snark. In the proccess, I revisted Kevn Larson's always interesting blog, and he seems aware and supportive of this implementation of an irony mark, since it will offers easy implementation. I have commented on the wikipedia pages for the sarcasm mark (discussion and article) and irony mark (discussion only).

Are there artists, designers or foundries that would like to be included in the list of supporters of the ligature? I have a spot for you on the incomplete Snark user's guide.

Choz Cunningham
!Exclamachine Type Foundry
http://www.exclamachine.com

Choz Cunningham's picture

Any variations particularly reach out and grab ya?

I'm most partial to 2B:
75% width tilde with dot centered under the left arc, tilde at the x-center. Stylish alignment, and legible, but not too wide. Overall: practical.

I notice the dot is a little closer to the left bearing than it should be in some of these. Sorry.

ebensorkin's picture

I still remain skeptical but part of the reason for that is I have not had time to really chew on this question & I will not have it for some time. I Do hope you are successful if only because I like the idea of extended expressive possibilities. But really despite all I have read so far I am unconvinced. A tilda might easily be pressed into use here. That might really be enough. But for the sake of looks I think the main thing to avoid is making the mark look too much like an exclaimation or Question mark on it's side. When I look at your icon I keep thinking question mark & it doesn't work for me. A tilda is even and suggests abiguity that needs resolution. In other words it says "Hang on - Reconsider this phrase." Perhaps there should be three kinds of marks short ones for nasty snide snarkyness. Medium ones for run of the mill irony. And long ones for really dry wit. It's a slipperly slope.

ebensorkin's picture

I am not liking it sitting with the period in your example. I wonder if it should stay in it's own area to the right of the period or if it is 'real' puctuation if it aught to stand on it's own. No period needed.

Geo Ben's picture

well, I don't use emoticons (or many abbreviations either) because I just like words and structure and all that good stuff.

But, as I said, the idea intrigues me.

I think B is best too, though I would still advocate tilting the tilde and moving it closer to the period so as to distinguish it.

Choz Cunningham's picture

The final word on width lies in the hands of the font designers, but I can imagine the variable widths easily following your suggestion, with the witty, pithy and most tongue-in-cheek typefaces employing a longer variant. (Also, those are less likely to be used in long copy.) It is a slippery slope, indeed. I'll let time do it's magic, once this is off the ground.

The dot under the stroke is to give a 'completeness of thought' look to sentences terminated with a snark, as well as too make it appear 'official' alongside other sentence termination marks. The QM and the ExM both are modified periods, so it seems suitable that this is as well. The tilde's wavy symmetry is of value for exactly why you describe. There's a reason why I don't suggest any of the other unused accents on a US keyboard.

You bring interesting thoughts to this, I will be pondering what you say most of the day.

Choz Cunningham
!Exclamachine Type Foundry
http://www.exclamachine.com

Choz Cunningham's picture

What do others think about the dot?

cuttlefish's picture

Choz, as you have the dot in your current avatar image, I like it!


(posted here just in case you change it later)

It's almost iconic; an all-seeing eye, taking a second look at the words preceeding it.

Choz Cunningham's picture

Thank you. I didn't see the image until I saved it small. Then I noticed it looked like a suspiciously-raised eyebrow, and thought, "Oh, that's too rich."

(That's Book Antiqua, tilde scaled 75%, darkened and moved.)

Choz Cunningham
!Exclamachine Type Foundry
The Snark

TBiddy's picture

I like it. I'm curious to see how it sets up in copy.

Geo Ben's picture

yep. good. I think you may have it. I, too, would like to see in in copy.

dezcom's picture

And it looks like a winking eye as well.

ChrisL

ebensorkin's picture

Let's see it set.

Lex Kominek's picture

I actually kind of like this now. It sort of reminds me of a fermata in music.

- Lex

Choz Cunningham's picture

Snark


Book Antiqua, 30 point, optical spacing, hyphenated and flushed. The snark is a 30 point period, with a bold 23.pt tilde. A 15 point space was added, to imitate proper spacing. One thing to keep in mind is that the snark is less necessary in the center of body text. The context usually will nornmally make any verbal irony clear. I think it will be most useful in very short strings. For illustrative purposes, however, I've attemped to justify the use by creating verbal irony that may be ambigous without it.

And yeah, I forgot to properly capitalize "Man Who Shot". My bad.

Choz Cunningham
!Exclamachine Type Foundry
The

cuttlefish's picture

This mark does indeed influence me to read the preceding sentence twice, It conveys greater importance than if the sentence were ended with a mere period, yet it isn't shouting as an exclamation point would.

The tilde looks a little thin, though. It doesn't carry the same visual weight as the question mark, and thus still looks like more of an assemblage than a character in its own right.

Choz Cunningham's picture

I agree, it is too light. I'm happy with the spacing otherwise. I was attempting to work strictly with font outlines in this and even using faux-bolding didn't make it the right weight. Working with tinier sizes makes it rough. Is there anybody out there with a flair for tweaking traditional serifed faces?

I am going to work on incorporation into my own display fonts next.

Choz Cunningham
!Exclamachine Type Foundry
The Snark

TBiddy's picture

Wow, looks a lot more elegant than I thought it would. I can see this becoming a fun, ornate type extra.

Geo Ben's picture

Bookman Antigua - 24pt

Choz Cunningham's picture

Well, after wandering around my room, staring @ the screen from various points, I'd have to say that the center example looks best to me, matching the weight of the text very well.

I'm sold on this design. I will begin writing the descriptive guide shortly. I'm planning on modelling it after MS's type guide entries, unless someone has a better formula to suggest. (Of course, in type, we'll all do our own thing anyhow, but where's the fun if there are no rules to break?)

If anyone has added this to their own typeface(s) already, post it here or drop me an email with credits and a nice big image to incorporate into the guide.

Choz Cunningham
!Exclamachine Type Foundry
Snark .~

Choz Cunningham's picture

Proposed copy for design recommendation (please comment!):
---

Snark
A mark used to terminate a statement or passage of verbal irony.

• Unicode: Private Use Area U+58066 (Hexadecimal $E2D2)

Design: The snark is a ligature of the period and tilde. The dot is centered under the lefthand arc of a condensed swung stroke. The forms of the ligature components closely mimic the original glyphs of the font. If the bottom dot of the question mark and exclamation mark are different from the period, the snark’s bottom dot should match them. The tilde is shortened to 70-90% of its original width. Care should be taken to insure that the tilde’s weight remains appropriate to the typeface, and the question mark’s weight is a good measure.

Usage Note: Similarly to a question mark, exclamation mark or period, the snark is placed immediately after the last letter of a sentence, and followed by a single space.

Height alignment: The bottom dot aligns with the lowercase overshoot in round designs and the baseline in square designs. The top of the upper stroke may align with the center bar of the lowercase letters, the x-height, or anywhere in between. There should be space equal to the diameter of the dot between the dot, and the bottom of the top stroke.

Advance width rule: The snark should fit between the width of the question mark and an N-space.

Other Notes: The snark is inspired by the unofficial French point d’ironie, a reversed question mark proposed in the 19th century. This variant may be possibly preferred for historical typefaces, or as an alternate design.

Despite the similarity between the French design and the Arabic question mark (U+1567), a designer should not substitute one for another, as this may cause rendering problems in some applications.

Should the snark become popular in languages that employ the inverted question mark and exclamation mark, designers may want to include an inverted version, following the conventions of the established marks. The dot should align with the question and exclamation mark’s (now) top dots. Suggested unofficial mapping would be U+58067 (Hex: $E2D3)

---
Choz Cunningham
!Exclamachine Type Foundry
The Snark

Choz Cunningham's picture

OpenType (OT) Implementation
The introduction of OpenType fonts allows for interesting advanced typographic substitutions to be made while the user is typing, along with many other font refinements. In this case, it can be used to place the snark in easy reach of common users, by “seeing” when they type (period)+(tilde). Adoption of OT is expected to continue to grow.

The ligature substitution will work, whether the glyph is mapped to any Unicode space, or even named, as long as the character is included in the font file. IT is called up in any OpenType (OT) font through the use of the Contextual Ligature feature. This class is currently supported by virtually all design-oriented OT-aware programs. Unlike other ligature substitutions, the class is specified to default to “on”, meaning the substitution will happen automatically, as the user types. (This can be turned off.)

Because the feature is watching an atypical character combination, the command is fairly simple to include. Using VOLT (the Visual OpenType Layout Tool), the substitution mapping is as follows:

Script, Language, Feature
Latin <latn>, Default<dflt>, Contextual Ligatures <clig>

A substitution is then added:

glyph#1 glyph#2 - > glyph#3

“#1” is the number or name of the standard period or full stop.
“#2” is the number or name of the ascii tilde.
“#3” is the number or name of the snark.

Finally, the substitution is dragged to the feature, tested and shipped. Now, the substitution should be automatic in Adobe’s OpenType-friendly applications and more.

Choz Cunningham
!Exclamachine Type Foundry
The Snark

Choz Cunningham's picture

Based on the feedback, I will use the text more-or-less like it stands.

Choz Cunningham
!Exclamachine Type Foundry
The Snark

Nick Shinn's picture

I'm afraid I'm not convinced of the merits of this mark.

In the first place, semantically, it's confusing, rather than helpful. The reason is that while the two standard "prosodic" marks used in English -- the question and the exclamation point -- indicate a stress both in voice and meaning, the snark does not. It suggests a sneering tone of voice, which is rarely appropriate to irony. In other words, irony requires understatement, eg "They teach you to be a gentleman there". Even sarcasm benefits from understatement. It is up to the reader to determine the degree of sneer in the character's voice, or up to the writer to better express ironic intent.

To further illustrate this point, why not have a "humorous" mark, to indicate that the author is making a joke? Or an "angry" mark to indicate that the author is pissed off? Or a "sincerity" mark, to indicate that the author really, really means what they're saying -- that would be the opposite of an irony mark, ennit, and surely just as appropriate. I mean, the project seems quite arbitrary if you are attempting to nuance the meaning of text.

That is why the question mark and the exclamation mark make sense, because they are truly prosodic. The interrobang, too, is prosodic. But the snark is not, except for the special case of sneering sarcasm. A more useful prosodic grammar mark would be "fear", indicating a pathetic whine as in "please don't hurt me".

In the second place, as a typographic design the tilde+period snark is unsuccessful. It is apologetic and lacks distinction, looking like a wobbly emdash and a fly-turd. That is the interpretation it must elicit, appearing at the end of sentences. By trying to re-use the ascii tilde, the design is compromised. The s-curve idea would be better if applied with purpose, as something with the size and angle of the slash, perhaps. In fact, the original thingy at the top of this thread showed more promise.

But really, the snark is, grammatically, confusing clutter, no matter how well designed.

Geo Ben's picture

M. Shinn,

There is much truth in what you say. but.... the matter of what constitues irony has long since been swept from the table, notwithstanding out insistence to the contrary. When you consider that the recognized master of IRONY is Seinfeld ("not that there's anything wrong with that"), we have to accept that we are stuck with sarcasm as irony (As M. Shaw suggests).

To be honest, I do not believe that I would ever use the snark, but i suspect that many people would find it useful. Real irony being a rather difficult trick to pull off, it would certainly help to have some sorta signpost indicating that one tried.

But mostly, i was intrigued by the design aspect. We may have little use for fadas and umlauts either, but ...

And I am learning about glyph design in the process.

geo.

ebensorkin's picture

I am going to have to revise what I said before about needing 3 marks. Actually you need five for the 5 levels of irony.

0 utter earnestness ( no irony )
e.g., Q: "What do you think of the squash soup?"
A: "I don't like it."

1 crude sarcasm
e.g., Q: "What do you think of the squash soup?"
A: "Mmmmm ... I loooooove squash soup!!"

2 refined wittiness
e.g., Q: "What do you think of the squash soup?"
A: "Oh goodie ... squash soup!"

3 subtle misdirection
e.g., Q: "What do you think of the squash soup?"
A: "What sort of soup is this again?"

4 dead-pan mockery
e.g., Q: "What do you think of the squash soup?"
A: "Sometimes squash soup can be quite tasty."

5 utterly earnest acceptance of the world in all its absurdity ( the highest form )
e.g., Q: "What do you think of the squash soup?"
A: "I don't like it."

This level theory of irony was proposal by Art Walaszek sometime around 2000.

Without indicating which of these you mean you run the risk of making all snarked sentances into level one. Level one irony is next to worthless. Level 5 is one of the highest compliments you can offer.

Choz Cunningham's picture

Nick, you bring a lot of valid and very interesting points up. I am quite fascinated by what you have seriously considered and insightfully explained. My reply is not brief, but I hope it is coherent and interesting to you and others.

I don't think the the snark is perfect. Nor do I believe I nor any other 'author' of a glyph can have it perfect in advance. Unlike Claudius or Peter, I cannot simply decree its implementation either, so, while it must be somewhat adequate at 'birth', it must be seeded into the wild, and any success will come paired with an evolutionary change in form or function, through a gradual social process. I anticipate alterations to meaning, use and design. It may become very good at some point.

A question is as often tonal as it is stressed, with a rising pitch. Either way, I find that both the common P-shaped and the more ornate curvy-z style both imply a pause born of idleness, which is presumably the wait for a response from the listener (or reader, in their head), and is pretty much perfect. Like the period, I would say it does its job very respectably.

The '!', on the otherhand, I think is rather weak, from a voice-minded view. I tend, when lacking enough, see as an across-the-sentence increase in volume, hardly prosodic. If there is enough narrative flow, I may create a more appropriate sound in my head, but that's hardly the mark's doing, and still not prosodic. That's more being used to it than anything, like other reading preferences. I think that if normal writing included double and triple exclamations, a lot more vocal clarity could exist. Also, from an abstract visual design point, I imagine that a dot and asterisk or hash/pound (#) would be more effective at creating the 'Blammo!" tone.

The slightly controversial ampersand and the downright pointless interrobang are closer examples of questionable ligatures. They offer no great quality over ‘and’ and “!?” They are alternates with advantages that match their drawbacks. At least the “.~” creates new meaning. Unfortunately, the target users will be limited to just that for a time, while the rather literate, and typographers who need this the least (due to historical interest, high literacy, care for sentence construction, value of tradition etc.) will see it as extraneous, until it is unavoidably required in fonts. I just hope there are enough progressive designers to meet the texters in the middle. And if type designers weren’t generally conservative, why would fx ligs still exist in non-decorative faces?

As far as the snark, I think you are saying it does actually sing a song, just not the right song?

At this point, the snark is a mark of verbal irony, including but not limited simply to sarcasm. I think you are saying that it isn't appropriate because it visually implies only a sneer, which universally means sarcasm. I wouldn't say so, though wife, however, wishes I felt otherwise, as she takes my most resigned sarcasms as complicity. I am more likely to sneer when using hyperbole or absurd understatement than sarcasm, which would mean the prosodic qualities still will suit the inferred acoustics you describe.

Also, any verbal irony requires a modulation of speech for effectiveness seems the kind most appropriate to mark in text. To complicate the debate, others seem to adopt different connotations to quite different examples. Previous posters have stated that it reminds them of a wide range, from outright levity to in-joking, ambiguity to scorn. This suggests that they are getting a different image or sound. Since they still find ways to attach it to their models of verbal irony, it is still working, in a way.

The :) is a humorous mark, and there is already a smiley-face character in ASCII and all its derivatives for it. It is too cute and specific to cover many, many types of humor, coming off as smarmy. The angry mark, I think, is fulfilled by the use of expletives in so many pretty ways. Particularly as participles and interjections, they fulfill this niche well. On the sincerity mark, it would immediately become co-opted as a sarcasm mark, if I can presume the behavior of people. Aside from that, all I can say is that perhaps there should be some more sentence terminals. I haven't the resources to tabulate all of what we say and mean, and the conditions where we do it. That would codify what’s most ambiguous. Until then, I'd say this is a bit arbitrary, but I can cope with that. I consistently see a problem with people using verbal irony in places where it cannot be clear, but they weren't intending ambiguity. So, to me, broken is a good place to fix things. I think this is supported by people trying to use quotes, percent pairs, already-loaded inverted exclamations or questions, technically problematic arabic glyphs, tilde pairs, parenthesized exclamations and/or questions, faux-markup tags, real markup tags, abbreviations, narrative sequences and even hand-drawn solutions to easily convey irony.

There is some controversy about the terms “Irony” and “Sarcasm”, and what is which. The definitions of both may be changing. This mark cannot resolve that debate, and shouldn’t suffer for it, but unfortunately does.

Despite the arbitrary method you assign fear to being worthy of characterization, over, say, sincerity, that sounds like one hell of an idea! I’ve been annoyed by the portrayals of fear in written work, from text-like to design-like ends. I would love to see what you come up with, and might just give that a go sometime. And no, I am serious, it is a very weak point of text.

I am inclined to take any description of a baseline dot, considering its successful use in so many other punctuations, as a fly-turd as simply hyperbolic. Likewise, the other individual component, the swung dash, is not ugly either, though that is subjective, of course. We’ve been moving towards N sized, not M sized, in body-oriented typefaces. I am more than eager to see any revisions you suggest, and very democratic in my consideration. I am sorry if it appears apologetic.~ My goal is to see something beautiful, consistent and practical replace the motley array of marks beginning to be adopted.

I don’t see the snark as confusing clutter, but as a specialty product, like the pilcrow, section or Circled R. To be used only when it it appropriate, which is not all irony in all places.

Choz Cunningham
!Exclamachine Type Foundry
The Snark

Choz Cunningham's picture

Level one irony is next to worthless. Level 5 is one of the highest compliments you can offer.

Great thought there. Must contemplate/ research it.

Were I even to dare to suggest that more than one is a good idea, I think that the period is the appropriate mark for both #1 and #5, so you were close with decribing the 3 between. Now, can one mark be useful to describe these? It is much more likely to find cultural embrace, I suspect. But you have a valid point. People think sarcasm only.

Choz Cunningham
!Exclamachine Type Foundry
The Snark

timd's picture

http://www.nms.ac.uk/ournewlook_1.aspx

New logo forming a saltire from exclamation and question marks.

The snark was a boojum, you see

Tim

ebensorkin's picture

boojum?

timd's picture

Last line of the poem, check out the illustrations if you have a chance.
http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/c/carroll/lewis/snark/fit8.html

A Boojum is the dangerous kind of Snark.

Tim

Nick Shinn's picture

Choz, thanks for the reply.
Reading it, and Eben's five levels, you mention multiplying the exclamation point for increasing volume of exclamation, so perhaps the tilde can be multiplied for varying degrees of irony?!

The fly turd comment was quite sincere, for which a sincerity mark would have helped, to denote the absence of sarcasm?!:-)
What I mean is that it is too easy to mistake the tilde for a dash, given the frequency of dashes at the end of sentences, and if that is the case, then the period would be assumed to be an artefact in the paper, the printing, or the said fly dropping. Or possibly a booger courtesy of a previous reader.

Good point about the happyface emoticon -- it has emerged as a genuine mark, and I will in future font designs consider kerning these characters.~ There, you see, the snark doesn't need a separate code point, because it is quite happy as a composite, like the happyface emoticon.

On a tangent, in setting the scotch roman mid-19th century, compositors used a triple space between sentences. I've recently been reading a new book set in Bembo with kerning between the space and cap A, V, T, W, and Y, and it's very annoying. Really, I don't see that there's anything fundamentally wrong with a double space between sentences. Typographers today have a notion of spaces that is generally quite rigid and simplistic, compared to how those in the past used a variety of spaces. So a double space after the snark (which is how I set it above) is an option. There is also the custom in many languages (eg French) to insert spacing before the end mark -- actually an English language practice that has died out. It has especial merit where the mark is x-height (ie the colons) and follwing an x-height character. The composite snark may have that kind of a problem, and shouldn't be too close to the word -- another reason to prefer the "arbitrary" snark.

What was the tipping point that established the happyface emoticon? Hindsight may be able to say, but it's always complex and you can't guarantee results, so all one person can do is push. In the 16th century Trissino advocated the addition of j, u and long o (omega) to the roman alphabet, and much later in the next century two out of three of his reforms had become established. So keep at it (because you never know where things will lead) and I hope the criticism is useful.

ebensorkin's picture

The composite snark may have that kind of a problem, and shouldn’t be too close to the word.

Excellent point.

I like the idea of the multiplicative snark.

This is an Example. ~~~~~

Geo Ben's picture

M. Cunningham makes a very good point in the snarks appropriateness in relieving us of the variety of marks used to select text from context (presumably)to indicate irony. it occurs to me, however, that such usages are usually inline rather than terminal. How would the snark be used in such instances?

eg: the store advertised a 'free gift' with purchase. (any usage that can be described as both tautological and oxymoronic MUST be ironic, intent notwithstanding).

geo.

ebensorkin's picture

The example you give can be read alot of ways. If you want it read a specific way you could do this instead:

The store advertised a 'free gift~' with purchase

or this:
The store advertised a 'free gift' with purchase.~

or this:
The store advertised a 'free gift' with purchase.~~~~~

You might not want to of course. But you could.

Choz Cunningham's picture


Found this in an old remnant of a specimen book, conveniently missing the cover and title pages. It looks like we are a season late and a shilling short.

 
I think the multi-exclamation and multi-snark are neat ideas, but I don't think semi-formal use is about to change on the exclamation, and it would seem to inconsistent to encourage it on the other. This would suggest that there is still a place for either in casual use. Poetry and comics are some of the limited applications where a need for typographic quality would overlap the highly vocalized stylings that might use it.

I hypothesise that the fly-turd effect is simply from a shortage of well kerned examples of the snark, added to its unfamiliary. I imagine it living side-by-side with the "franken-"snark: ".~" for quite some time. By the time support is common enough, it will be familiar. As for the kerning; hey, it's at version .3 beta right now!

I really would suggest that people play with the bearings and arrangement when adding the mark. Particularly in its infancy, it needs to be a beautiful and readable improvement ofver ".~", or who would care?

Re-reading my last post, I was a bit harsh in lamenting the use of quotes. They are very good for ironic intra-sentence use. They are also well established, even referred to back in vocal irony. Unfortunately, they are used at the full sentence level in some places online. Ugh. The rest of the mix is also used at the full sentence level, a lot of them at the beginning (as part of a pair) as well as at the end.

Perhaps there need not be a separate code spot altogether for the snark. I think it looks "just okay" in a few fonts, where the tilde sits around the x-height. In ones where it sits at the M-height, or higher, it looks bad (for making a snark). Others may disagree, but the look of ".~" in several common screen fonts bugs me. Typophile's default font does a better job than most.

The illustration above shows that there is a lot of range in what the snark could become in different fonts, and those were just ideas from one noggin. I plan to have a contest soon to promote the idea, tageting traditional illustrative artists. And this may spawn even more variations within the basic idea, inspiring us.

I wonder how Trissino would have promoted his ideas today. Aside from open design discussion here, and practicing it in my own fonts, naturally, I am considering an emailing campaign (real mail, not spam, to relevant outlets), contests, clothing and any ideas anyone offers that sound not-too-impossible. Suggestions?

Here is something just to muse:

    e.g., Q: “What do you think of the squash soup???”
    A: “Squash soup!!! I don’t like it.~.~.~”

Choz Cunningham
!Exclamachine Type Foundry
The Snark

lysdexia's picture

it's -> its
it's -> its
It's -> Its
interrogobang -> interrobang
interrogobang -> interrobang
it's -> its
characature -> caricature
it's -> its
it's -> its
tounge -> tongue
it's -> its
uvula: vulgar, vacuum, ultraviole[n]t

illiterate shithead

it's -> its
it's -> its

criteria..is -> criteria..are

it's -> its
it's -> Its
it's -> its

Ye're all a bunch of illiterate retards. That dumb Franc didn't understand that extant punctuation can mock up any needful expression much better than his seizures. Fear, for one, has ? or ?¿? pitch, ¡ strength, and sl-o-w-th. I'll leave a note on Wikipedia. BTW, that (?) and (!) for irony in captioning rocks, but one does need one character. If you want irony, use a hollow stop to show that the statement is also hollow in meaning. The reader will look for a footnote that isn't there:

That was great*
That was great°
That was great,  Yes.

Anyway, a tilde (~) is wavy. It's better suitted to a singsongy blurt, not to awkwardness. Listen to your own thohts or shut up.

-Aut

Choz Cunningham's picture

No,I don't think you will be leaving any note on Wikipedia.

Welcome to Typophile.~

paul d hunt's picture

just came across this, wasn't sure if someone mentioned it already:
http://www.underware.nl/site2/index.php3?id1=underware&id2=custom-type&i...

Choz Cunningham's picture

Very interesting. I am sorry to say that I do not find the design as effective as our own, but it is interesting to learn of the commission and promotion.

The full page ad makes me think it is time to fire my PR man.

acrobat's picture

lysdexia's in love with words, and apparently pays for it!

This thing with underware indicates, at least to me, that introducing new marks for irony or whatever is a good gimmick that gets some publicity. I guess until the people of letters (not letterforms) really see the need for a new mark we'll just end up with a few useless designs.

Emoticons were, I think, a bottom up phenomenon that gave us some very exciting and often very funny combinations of quotation marks to represent an array of feelings, situations, states of mind in informal communication. Where are they now? They were reinvented as a series of readymade, and disturbingly unpleasant, cartoons.

You've probably gathered by now I'm not very keen on the idea of pushing for its use, or including it in fonts. I'm all for the fun of designing and discussing it as if it were something serious!

Palatine's picture

This is the equivalent of making a bad joke and then explaining it, I'm afraid. If one needs to explain irony/sarcasm, then it wasn't very effective irony/sarcasm to begin with. That's the beauty of a well-placed bit of implied meaning. You need to to "get it."

joeking_tp's picture

If I say that something is ambiguous am I being ambiguous?

If I mark something as 'ironic' does that indeed make it ironic?

If my intention was irony then the reader may or may not get the intention of irony. If you remove the intentionality operator (the irony mark) doesn't that leave it for the reader to decide?

Why do you want the irony to be s.p.e.l.l.e.d o.u.t?
Doesn't it imply you know what 'irony' is? "oh, right, he means the exact opposite of what he said"
Or am I being ironic?

Choz Cunningham's picture

If you describe somethings as 'something' I don't think you need to then mark it as ambigous.

Yes, either because it was, or because you used the mark incorrectly.

Now to be completely candid and not ironic in the least. My original, personal motivation to popularize the snark is to, first, preempt the popularization of other alternatives that also (less tastefully) mark the beginning of a sentence or section, and two, see that it looks pleasant, yet practical. As to the details of proper usage, that is all speculated upon previously in this thread. In the end, it is whatever people think it is the most. The lives of the semicolon, the exclamation and even the full stop are not static. The snark is crawling. I hope to be around when it takes its first staggering, bouncy steps.

brampitoyo's picture

Oh my gosh, yes, I saw the mark on Underware's e-newsletter the other day and immediately reminded of this topic! Frankly, I was surprised that the features of both Underware's and Choz's marks are quite similar, notably the "snark" shape.

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