Wednesday, May 31, 2017

How...Well, Ironic

     There have long been -- as in centuries -- various movements to produce some mark or indicator for irony and sarcasm.  There are, it seems, people who might otherwise miss the point.  There are other people who research such things at great and delightful length. The inverted exclamation symbol is a perennial favorite -- indeed, there are some languages that already use it that way¡ No, really -- and various takes on reversed question marks have been put forward.  Another favorite is reverse-slanted italics, often erroneously attributed to H. L. Mencken.  Other entirely original symbols have been set forth and have sunk, bubbling, in the marketplace of ideas.

     More recently, purple text has been proposed; smilies and tildes are used on occasion.  (As if!~)*

     But the Dutch had their own idea; in 2007, the ironieteken was put forward with great fanfare during the national book festival.

     It looked like this:

     A flash of lightning!  A bolt from the blue!  The sting of snark, the bite of sarcasm...!

     And then someone with a piping-fresh font in their computer typed two of them side-by side.  The thud of of jackboots couldn't have been any louder.  My, how terribly familiar....

     How ironic.

     The ironieteken died a quiet, hasty death, unmourned.

     And you're still stuck figuring out sarcasm and its kin on your own.  It's a kind of ongoing Voight-Kampf test.

     How'd ya do yesterday?
* A bit of a problem for me, as I habitually use "~" to indicate "approximately," as in "~100 miles from here to Dayton."  13 years of formal education, and I came away with that.

1 comment:

Monty James said...

I like figuring those things out on my own. Context doesn't get nearly enough of a workout, if Internet arguments are used as a gauge.