Obscure Punctuation #7

International Ambiguity Mark

I want to start by first stating just how excited I was when I found out that the idea to use an ambiguity mark had even been proposed. Not necessarily because a mark like this should even have to be used in a written language, but more for the fact that it simply exists— even if it is just on somebody else’s blog. Fellow blogger Kevin Larson, presented this punctuation mark and mentioned that he laid eyes on this typographical mark in a book written by G.G. Neill Wright called The Writing of Arabic Numerals. He then goes on to say, “It was written by the Papal Chancery hand of 15th century and may plausibly be interpreted as 0, 3, 6, 7, or 8”.

Larson did not really expand on whether or not the mark was actually used for its ambiguity, but I think he meant to imply that he would like to propose it be used that way. Under what circumstances would this ever be used!? This mark would only cause confusion. However, if your goal is to confuse your audience, then it would be a very entertaining punctuation mark indeed. Moreover, using an ambiguity mark in context would be a lot of fun in a work of fiction in order to compound the irony of a purposefully over-the-top, flat, or clichéd character. Adding a mark would just further emphasize just how distracting and counterproductive the existence of this character is and subsequently whatever this character stands to represent.

As for a serious application for this, there is none. But I certainly don’t think that should completely discredit this punctuation mark since it is, at the very least, creative and humorous and would require the talents of a skilled writer to work this successfully into piece of fiction.

— Deirdre McCormick, Poetry Editor

Editor’s Note: Deirdre McCormick is a third year Biology Major with a minor in Creative Writing.  She is deeply passionate for both topics and that is evident in much of her writing endeavors.  She was also recently published in Lewis University’s own Windows magazine.

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