Further to Dr John Doherty’s letter, the difficulty of distinguishing the ironic from the literal in writing has long been recognised.

In the 17th century, the natural philosopher John Wilkins, who married Oliver Cromwell’s sister, proposed that irony should be marked with an inverted exclamation mark (¡).

In the 1960s, the French author Hervé Bazin suggested the Greek letter psi (appropriately pronounced sigh) should be used.

To substitute intonation in speech, Bazin put forward other punctuation marks to signify love, acclamation, certainty, doubt and authority. Since none of these have come into use, perhaps emojis could be used?

Blair Noonan,
Dublin 6.

No typeface for irony (Irish Times letters page)

17 thoughts on “Emoji Proposal

  1. Termagant

    You can’t use ¡, think of the poor Spaniards, never again able to exclaim sincerely

    How about this yoke ¶ since it has no real purpose anyway

    1. Frilly Keane

      thats to mark the end of a paragraph

      c’mere what’s this one | for (its over the back slash next to Z)

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