A post from Shady Characters

Miscellany № 6

As mentioned in Miscellany № 5, the interrobang is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary, and in honour of the occasion Amy Freeborn of The Freeborn Times has published an article on the subject which brings together information both from here and from Alex Jay’s excellent biography of its creator. Not only that, but no less an organisation than the BBC dropped a passing reference to the interrobang into the end of a recent news item on history of punctuation, driven, surely by the character’s ongoing birthday celebrations. It’s only a shame that they couldn’t have been more complimentary about it!


Ugmonk's excellent aluminium ampersand. Yours for a mere $54.00.
Ugmonk’s excellent aluminium ampersand. Yours for a mere $54.00. (Image courtesy of Ugmonk.)

The excellent aluminium ampersand on the left is a product of Ugmonk, Inc. (as mentioned recently by I Love Typography) and I must say that one of these would be winging its way to my letterbox already had I not recently made the jump from gainful employment to starving writer. My garret would be much improved by its presence.


Lastly, my friend Jeff Sanders writes with a link to a marketer’s (or possibly grammarian’s) nightmare. Pity the poor apostrophe. It is sadly ill-used.

6 comments on “Miscellany № 6

  1. Comment posted by John Cowan on

    I particularly like ampersands that clearly show their etymology: the “et” in this one is apparent when you know to look for it. Perhaps Ugmonk could be persuaded to provide an equally artistic Tironian et (, for those of you with the right fonts) to match it.

    1. Comment posted by Keith Houston on

      Absolutely! A suitably Roman Tironian et would be a fine accompaniment to Ugmonk’s ampersand. In fact, the door would be opened for any number of marks of punctuation, though eventually the topology of certain marks would get in the way. ‘;’, ‘!’, ‘?’, ‘‽’ and so on would require a bit of lateral thinking.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Comment posted by Tim Dixon on

    Thanks for the updates, Keith. The BBC piece was interesting, but I agree it was somewhat dismissive of the poor interrobang. I hope your austerity is alleviated soon, perhaps in part by the release of your book. How’s it coming along?

    1. Comment posted by Keith Houston on

      Hi Tim — thanks for asking! The book is coming along nicely, but it’s early days yet. I’m working on the asterisk and dagger at the moment, and I’m constantly amazed by how much history lies behind even ostensibly uninteresting marks of punctuation.

      I wish I could share more with Shady Characters readers, but I can only hope that you stick with me until the book is released — if it’s anywhere near as enjoyable to read as it is to write, I think you’ll like it!

  3. Comment posted by tz on

    Solidus? The / when used for fractions?

    1. Comment posted by Keith Houston on

      Hi tz — sorry, I might be missing your question. What did you want to know?

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