Exclamation and question commas

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The exclamation comma and the question comma were designed and patented by Leonard Storch, Haagen Ernst Van and Sigmund Silber in 1992 but the idea never caught on and the patent expired in 1995.

The idea was to use the exclamation comma and question comma within a sentence where there is strong feeling or a question but this emotion ends before the sentence does.

Quite a nice idea but it must be difficult introducing a new punctuation mark – it is not one you would use all that often and people need to be able to recognise it when reading and be comfortable using it.

And if that interests you – here are some more!


Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

6 thoughts

  1. How about a punctuation mark for a paraphrase? Ellipsis may be used sometimes but I have always thought a distinct one for the paraphrase might serve one well.

  2. I totally disagree with new punctuation marks.
    Some pseudo linguists have tried introducing so called rules for new punctuation in the late 1950s, 1964 and 1967, the 1980s, 1992 and 1998, and again a few times in the 2000s. The last try being in 2015.

    Why on earth would we need new punctuation marks when the vast majority of people cannot even use the simple punctuation properly?
    Also, each punctuation has it’s own meaning and proper use so if one wants to add a nuance or meaning to a sentence one just needs to use words and not alter the punctuation.

    Grammar is common sense and as long as people are unable to learn lexicology and grammar properly they will never be able to use it to its full extent.
    Needing to create new punctuation signs only shows
    the inability of people to master the already existing signs.

      1. I’m relieved you agree with me, Janet. When you wrote that you found it “quite a nice idea” I thought you enjoyed that new punctuation system!
        I’d feel utterly sad to see new symbols appearing as the ones we already have are so often misused or misunderstood.

      2. As someone who is fascinated by language I think they are a intriguing idea and I would love to learn how to use them. This punctuation system would be perfect for those situations when you have tricky sentences and would enable you to take syntax one step further. But as a teacher I think that people should structure sentences well enough that they need as little punctuation as possible. People need so many commas because their sentences are too long and they have too many clauses. They use too many contractions in formal writing, cannot use apostrophes correctly, and don’t know how a semi-colon works. Swedes tend to overuse exclamation points and underuse apostrophes, for example.

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