SarkMark – The new symbol to express sarcasm
From the Guardian 15/01/10:
The SarcMark, as it has been named, is designed to be used in the same way as an exclamation or question mark.
Anyone concerned that the irony of their email or text message might not be appreciated by its recipient can use the symbol to close their sentence, thereby avoiding awkward misunderstandings.
The symbol – a dot inside a single spiral line – can be installed onto any PC running Windows 7, XP or Vista, as well as Macs and Blackberry mobile devices.
It can then be used in Word documents, instant messenger conversations, Outlook email and other programmes, just by pressing Ctrl and the full stop button.
The Michigan company behind the SarcMark have applied for a patent to protection their invention.
I absolutely love this idea but whether it takes off it another matter altogether. I guess people use the ‘tongue’ smily in this context at the moment but the idea of having a new character is a great one. In principle, anyway.
Paul Sak of the firm said that the new punctuation mark was not a gimmick and had serious potential applications, such as allowing deaf people to pick up sarcasm in subtitles.
And that’s a great point; while smilies are great at helping to convey subtle meanings or expressions, they can seem a touch informal. That said, I’m still amazed at the increasingly widespread acceptance of using smilies in business emails.
But here’s the sticking point:
The symbol currently costs $1.99 to download – a price that many may think deserves a SarcMark of its own.