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:

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

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 : 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.~):

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

TBiddy's picture

I think a "vertical" solution is most effective. I think whichever sets up best in copy is probably the best solution.

cerulean's picture

Lurking in the standard PC encoding is a character that nobody ever uses for anything: the "logical not". I think it could be put to use as an indicator for flat sarcasm that need be unambiguously sarcastic. "That sounds logical.¬" literally means "That sounds logical... not."

Kevin Larson'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.

I completely agree. I also find question marks repulsive. Why should I attach a question mark to a properly written question.

TBiddy's picture

Why should I attach a question mark to a properly written question.

Because punctuation also indicates "inflection." Your sentence above reads monotone without a question mark.

crossgrove's picture

Kevin, come now. Written language isn't the same as spoken. It is bad grammar to leave question marks out of written questions. By that logic I can just abandon punctuation, capitalization and maybe even word spaces.

Choz Cunningham's picture

Biddy, you fell for it.

Kevin Larson's picture

I'm sorry, did the irony not come through. I wonder if there's some way I could have conveyed it better.

crossgrove's picture

Oh I get it. Kevin, that's too subtle. The tone you are conveying is actually a little more snarky even than simple irony. But it also would not work in sentences that did not end in questions. I'm sure you realize.

TBiddy's picture

I’m sorry, did the irony not come through. I wonder if there’s some way I could have conveyed it better.

LOL. Point taken. :)

Choz Cunningham's picture

I'm going to look up how Underware encoded their version, and see how compatible things can be. Perhaps that, the snark and the French design could share a spot.

The official resource for all things snarky, aside from Joan River's home page, is coming very soon.

Choz Cunningham's picture

The Underware solution places the irony mark in the ASCII Circumflex's position. I don't think that is a good long-term solution, though it certainly makes spreading it easy enough.

Previously, I had been recommending placing the snark in the Unicode private use area (at E2D2), where it was not too likely too cause problems, and accessing it through OpenType -clig-. This has two drawbacks: possible conflict with other common "add-on" uses of the PUA, and problems encoding the contextual ligation to work when you want it and not other times.

On the first issue, the snark is very similar to the Medieval Unicode Font Initiative's "Punctus Interrogativus Horizontal Tilde" which they encode @ F1E8. I am tempted to change the recommendation, but our earlier experiments suggest that a "basic" snark's top bar sets best at about 3/4ths the width of the ASCII tilde. Nevertheless, compatibility with MUFI standards may be good.

-clig-, it turns out, is not the greatest place to offer the .~-to-snark conversion. Even though it is a terminal mark, it is not always followed by space. Sometimes it is followed by a carriage return, and I am sure there are other exceptions. Any thoughts from the othere 'philers on that? A stylistic set perhaps, or in -dlig-? The goal is to offer a painless transition from a dot-tilde to a snark biglyph.

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