patentoftheweek.com reports (via IPKAT) that a patent application has been filed for two new punctuation marks, the question comma and the exclamation comma. It was filed by the suspiciously German-sounding Leonard Storch, Ernst van Hagen and Sigmund Silber.
I can’t find anything on the website – perhaps the patent came via the mailing list – so IPKAT’s account is all I have to go on.
bq. The IPKat has only one thing to say: ?&$%*!
Oh, just a minute – I’ve found them, and the gentlemen are from the USA:
Using two new punctuation marks, the question comma and the exclamation comma: and respectively, inquisitiveness and exclamation may be expressed within a written sentence structure, so that thoughts may be more easily and clearly conveyed to readers. The new punctuation marks are for use within a written sentence between words as a comma, but with more feeling or inquisitiveness. This affords an author greater choice of method of punctuating, e.g., to reflect spoken language more closely. Moreover, the new punctuation fits rather neatly into the scheme of things, simply filling a gap, with a little or no explanation needed. Also, the interabang comma if the interabang is available. An example of usage follows. Readers encountering their first question comma in print may silently remark: “Clever! funny I never saw one of those before”.
There are other instances, but I think they are the same patent for different jurisdictions.
The question comma just has a comma at the bottom instead of a full stop / period, and similarly the exclamation comma.