For ages, posters on forums like Reddit have used “ /s ” at the end of a post to indicate sarcasm. But the history of tone indication is much older. In her ledger “ Eats, Shoots & Leaves : The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, ” the grammar historian Lynne Truss describes how, in 1575, a british printer named Henry Denham created a punctuation mark called the “ percontation point, ” a invert question bell ringer intend to indicate that a question was rhetorical. ( “ It didn ’ t catch on, ” Ms. Truss writes. ) A century late, in his 1668 work “ An Essay Towards a Real Character, and a philosophic language, ” the Anglican clergyman and philosopher John Wilkins proposed that ironic statements could be indicated with an turn back exclamation scratch. “ Wilkins ’ randomness choice of the ¡ seems most allow, ” Keith Houston writes in his koran “ Shady Characters : The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, and other Typographical Marks. ” “ The bearing of an ecphonesis target already modifies the tone of a statement, and inverting it to yield an i-like character both hints at the imply i-rony and simultaneously suggests the inversion of its meaning. ”

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Reading: Tone Indicators and How to Use Them – The New York Times

That didn ’ t catch on either. “ Wilkins ’ second invention was not only the first of many proposed irony marks, but besides the first base of them to fail, ” Mr. Houston writes. In 2010, a company in Michigan called Sarcasm, Inc. released the “ SarcMark, ” basically a department of transportation inside of a squiggle. It was marketed as “ the official, easy-to-use punctuation sign to emphasize a sarcastic phrase. ” Initially sold as a baptismal font download for $ 1.99, it ’ s now available for absolve as a spine pack for iMessage. In a 2001 post, the blogger Tara Liloia proposed that tildes might be used to indicate sarcasm.

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“ The closest thing to a sar­casm mark is the wink­ing smi­ley — and he is­n ’ t actually a pro­fes­sional tool. You can ’ thymine write a letter to a busi­ness as­so­ci­ate with little cutesy ASCII faces in it. It ’ south good not done, ” she wrote. “ And no one can claim that sarcasm international relations and security network ’ t professional. If the come of sarcasm in the american workplace is any indication, sarcasm is nothing but professional ! ” “ My solu­tion, ” she concluded, “ is the tilde. ~ ”

While the tilde besides never reached critical mass, cutesy emoji faces achieved global laterality, even among business associates. They ’ ve been about closely equally farseeing as internet communication itself : The smiley face emoticon “ : – ) ” is generally credited to a 1982 message from Scott E. Fahlman, a calculator skill professor at Carnegie Mellon University, after a misinterpretation that occurred when a colleague posting on the proto-internet service ARPANET made a dry antic about mercury contaminating an elevator shaft. The utility program of emoticons for tone indication quickly spread off-campus : A few months subsequently, a research worker named James Morris sent a message titled “ Communication Breakthrough ” to his colleagues at the research lab Xerox Parc. “ Because you can ’ t see the person who is sending you electronic mail you are sometimes uncertain whether they are serious or joke, ” he wrote in a message that would likely result in a very sincere cancellation today. “ recently, Scott Fahlman at CMU devised a outline for annotating one ’ s messages to overcome this trouble. If you turn your head sideways to look at the three characters : – ), they look screen of like a smiling face. frankincense, if person sends you a message that says ‘ Have you stopped beating your wife ? : – ) ’ you know they are joking. If they say ‘ I need to talk to you : – (, ’ be prepared for trouble. ’ ”

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