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The lowest form of punctuation

Oh, I suppose you’ve already heard about the SarcMark?

In today’s world with increasing commentary, debate and rhetoric, ((What a great world?)) what better time could there be than NOW, ((No better time?)) to ensure that no sarcastic message, comment or opinion is left behind ((I would put a full stop here, but then I am not the kind of entrepreneur who will soon become immensely wealthy from charging people $1.99 for a punctuation mark?)) Equal Rights for Sarcasm – Use the SarcMark ((No, really, use it?))

Of course, the proposal for a point d’ironie — ? — dates back to Alcanter de Brahm in the late 19th century, and his design was a tad more elegant than the SarcMark’s torpid scribble, which looks at best like a pain aux raisins except with only one raisin, that has probably gone mouldy and poisonous and will kill you within moments if you swallow it. Anyway, I’m pretty sure I would find more use for a punctuation mark to signal those rare moments when I am not being sarcastic?

  1. 1  shadowfirebird  January 21, 2010, 10:57 am 

    I know sarcasm is one of the Great Misunderstood Things (and I can’t even resort to the traditional excuse of being American) but I thought that sarcasm was saying the opposite of what you meant, for comic effect?

    That being the case, if I put a sarcasm mark on the end of a sarcastic comment, it’s not sarcasm any more, is it? Because I’m actually *saying* that I mean the opposite.

    So by definition the sarcasm mark is useless.

    (Although, it seems to me that it might be possible to use it sarcastically… )

  2. 2  Steven  January 21, 2010, 11:12 am 

    That is an excellent point! (Unlike the SarcMark itself?)

  3. 3  shadowfirebird  January 21, 2010, 11:20 am 

    Hmm. It raises an interesting point. (Interesting to me, anyway.) I think I may be about to shoot myself down in flames.

    As kids we would go around saying things like “what a good idea … not!”. (And I note that my son does the same, although he certainly didn’t get it from me.) Is that sarcasm, or … not?

  4. 4  Freshly Squeezed Cynic  January 21, 2010, 11:56 am 

    I believe the response would be that it is totally, like, whatever.

  5. 5  weaver  January 21, 2010, 12:01 pm 

    Pshaw! That’s not a point d’ironie, that’s a percontation point.

    I’d recognise it anywhere.

  6. 6  Kirk  January 21, 2010, 12:22 pm 

    To extend what shadowfirebird says a little: even if we took the sarcmark at face value it would soon be the case that people would use the device in ironic ways – associating it with something meant to be taken literally, and missing it off from genuine sarcasm. Any mark that you can use to signal irony can also be used ironically. So far from clearing things up, this would just make things even harder to understand. Doesn’t Davidson say something like this on his book about metaphor? I think it’s part of the driving force behind the claim that a metaphor means what it literally states.

  7. 7  shadowfirebird  January 21, 2010, 12:43 pm 

    @Kirk: I’m trying to decide whether you meant that ironically.

  8. 8  Kirk  January 21, 2010, 12:58 pm 

    At this point even I’m not sure.

  9. 9  Roger Migently  January 21, 2010, 2:29 pm 

    I prefer the Interrobang: ?
    …but really just because of it sounds rude, like premature ejaculation during dinner, or like an evening session at Abu Ghraib that ends abruptly ?

  10. 10  Alex Higgins  January 21, 2010, 9:24 pm 

    But then people are punctuating sarcasm in electronic media already – and other inflections that might otherwise be missed. Emoticons are a pretty common example.

    And you can see the difference it makes:

    a) you absolute shit
    b) You. Absolute. Shit.
    c) You absolute shit ;-)

  11. 11  Tom  January 22, 2010, 11:35 pm 

    I find that everything I want to say about (or with) the SarcMark comes under the umbrella of “ironic use thereof to signify how stupid I think it is“, which means that I then need a SarcMark to punctuate my use of the SarcMark itself.

    And that’s why I don’t trust myself with punctuation

  12. 12  Steven  January 23, 2010, 7:42 pm 

    Alex, but the wink smiley can often just add insult to insult, can’t it? It is sometimes a way of signalling that you know you’re saying something offensive, and you’re doing so deliberately.

  13. 13  Josh Johnson  January 24, 2010, 4:41 pm 

    Lol, it’s like saying “no offence” after you just called their mother a slag

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