SarkMark – The new symbol to express sarcasm

the SarcMark 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.

Comments

  1. Patenting and charging for punctuation seems doomed to fail. I hate stupid made up new stuff thoughtlessly dropped into languages more than as anyone but even the stupidest stuff works because people can choose to try it out and decide to use it freely. Having just typed it out I think "frugalistas" should die but it didn't cost me $1.99 to try it out.

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  2. I don't like the look of it. It's really ugly! Doubt it will catch on...

    What's wrong with smilies? ¬_¬

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  3. Great story - love the blawg ( :) )

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  4. Stephen: Yeah, I agree with you ... I think their chances of meaningfully protecting the sarkmark are limited at best and kind of defies what's needed for widespread adoption. While I still agree in principle with the sarkmark, this isn't a money-making opportunity.

    Andro: I don't think it's that bad but there's just too much going against it for it to hit the big time.

    Smilies are awkward, often difficult to interpret (outside of the mainstream ones) some software recognise them and convert while others don't, some users have different ideas of them (e.g. do you use a dash for the nose or not) .... the list goes on.

    Smilies could be improved if standardised across the board I guess.

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  5. i want to promote your new sarkmark ! please contact me lftlbs2001@yahoo.com

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  6. Dear Michael at Law Actually,

    The above seems wholly legit. You should do it (sarkmark)

    Regards,

    Hmm, maybe it -will- catch on after all.

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  7. Stephen - absolutely... A.G.R. Services sounded such a good bet, I've already invested several thousand. :p

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  8. uh hu and if a friend has downloaded this PoC but I haven't, exactly what am I going to see in the email?
    It'll be just like specialised smilies in MSN - pointless unless they are universal.

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  9. All you need do is this:

    '!' -- i.e., you are using the exclamation point in a non-standard way. I'll sell it to you for just 99-cents'!'

    (On reflection, it looks kinda cute -- in Courier, anyway.).

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  10. Anon: Yeah, I appreciate that point. That's why I said it needs to attain widespread acceptance to take off (and I don't see that happening).

    Heisenberg: Great idea... I'll give you 99 cents for it. Will paypal do?

    :p

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  11. SarcMark: When your friends are too dumb to realize the sarcasm.

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