Punctus Interrogativus “Question” Mark: a Biography

Kai Takahashi
2 min readJul 6, 2016

Since its birth in the 8th century, Question Mark (first known as Punctus Interrogativus) has always been very oratorically aware — cognizant that changes in pitch can significantly alter interpretation of sentences. In childhood, Question closely resembled its Aunt Tilde, but eventually dwarfed its relative. Its voice never developed in puberty; as a result, it has a distinctive high pitch that became quite well known. It developed lifelong friendships with the Ws — Who, What, Where, When and Why — as well as their neighbor How.

Question has a multi-faceted personality. On one hand, it’s curious and inquisitive. On the other, it’s demanding and full of requests. On one hand, it’s doubtful and unsure. On the other, it’s rebellious and disruptive.
Question became an influential and revered Mark for challenging authority in a movement called Doubtism. Words would line up in particular orders — led by the Ws and just as Question asked — in order to experience the grandeur of Question.

It has raised its many children to be just as, if not more so, doubtful. Often these demonstrations have become family outings, and the family as a whole is much stronger than even Question alone.

In a dubious affair, Question and Exclamation produced a child, Interrobang, who shares features of both Marks equally. As a mixed Mark, it has struggled to become accepted in its community (it has been embraced by Type Designers — stylists who love to dress Interrobang up in many different forms).

In recent years, Question has sometimes liberated its word disciples, leaving them under the guidance of the Ws. Question taught words that the ability to doubt, request, and probe were in them all along, and not dependent on Question itself. Question has moved on to convert more stubborn words, who refuse to realign for Question, to become Doubtists.