Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Rhetorical questions.

From:Adrian Morgan (aka Flesh-eating Dragon) <dragon@...>
Date:Friday, October 1, 2004, 14:43
Sometimes the topics that come up on the Internet are of potential
interest to more than one group, and I feel inclined to share them.
This is one such.

In the past, some people have advocated the view that a rhetorical
question mark would sometimes be useful in written English. Now, a
quick Google will show that there was indeed once such a mark (simply
an ordinary question mark, but backwards), which was invented in the
1580s and died out only a few decades later, so obviously it didn't
catch on. And my personal view is that a rhetorical question mark
would *not* be useful. Partly because unless a question is expressed
badly then IMO it's unlikely for it to be rhetorical without being
*obviously* so, and partly because I find the division of questions
into two categories, real vs rhetorical, to be every bit as artificial
as the division of astronomy into "stars" vs "other". I hold that
there are several different types of question, all equally different
from each other. There is even some disagreement among English
speakers about what exactly is or is not a rhetorical question,
indicating that the borders of the category are fuzzy. These are
issues that I mention in brief now, but which I can expand upon.

So having established that I do not advocate the need or use for a
rhetorical question mark, let me reiterate the philosophy - familiar
to all of us - that just because something isn't useful in practise
doesn't imply that it can't be fun to design! Rejecting the 1580s
version, I have submitted two designs for a rhetorical question mark
and have illustrated both of them in Courier, Times and Arial fonts
here: <>. The
first of the two designs was my original and still my favourite; I
submitted the second later in an attempt to cater for people who are
attached to the notion that sentence-concluding punctuation should
always have a dot at the base. Other people have made other
suggestions, but I'll just mention my own for now; if I'm asked then I
will mention the others.

I just thought this would be of passing interest to conlangers, who
would probably have interesting opinions to add.



Muke Tever <hotblack@...>
Garth Wallace <gwalla@...>