It’s a sad fact of life in this business (that is, the business of unusual punctuation marks) that many a promising mark has gone the way of the dodo. The SarcMark©, for instance, was a veritable punctuational mayfly; Paul Mathis’ attempt to rebrand ‘the’ as ‘Ћ’ was over almost as soon as it had begun; and so on, and so forth. The archives of this blog are littered with the corpses of failed innovations.
It is with some satisfaction, then, that I can now report that “Sartalics”, the digital reinterpretation of Tom Driberg’s “ironics”, or backwards-slanting italics, has recently been resuscitated. Nathan Hoang, one of the three advertising interns who launched sartalics.com back in 2011 (the others being June Kim and Blake Gilmore), has recently brought the long-dormant @Sartalics Twitter account back to life.
Rather than focusing on introducing an entirely new style of font, however, this time round Nathan is concentrating on the use of backslashes as a signal of ironic intent. I think this is actually a rather neat idea; the use of asterisks to imply bold or emphasised text is as old as the hills in Internet terms, and employing backslashes to convey \irony\ or \sarcasm\ is a very short leap from there. No fiddling with Unicode characters or font editors — textual sarcasm is right there at your fingertips. Clearly, though, sartalics in any form have a long way to go before they can claim to be in common use. As Nathan says himself,
Slow clap for #Sartalics. \A lot of progress\ since 2011.
What do you think? Is there a future for this most \useful\ of textual innovations?
As I research material for The Book I find myself subscribing to a whole new set of book- and manuscript-related blogs. Recently, at Jesse Hurlbut’s Manuscript Art blog, and apropos of nothing much at all, I came across this lovely decorative paragraph mark, or pilcrow. If you’re interested in seeing more, I highly recommend following Jesse’s blog.
In other news, Mark Libermann of UPenn’s Language Log blog brings to our attention the scandalous news that “EU rules ‘mean children can’t get life-saving cancer drugs’”; and, lastly, the ampersand inspires a poem at Magma Poetry.
Thanks for reading!