Although in the written English language there is no standard way to denote irony or sarcasm, several forms of punctuation have been proposed. Among the oldest and frequently attested are the percontation point invented by English printer Henry Denham in the 1580s, and the irony mark, used by Marcellin Jobard in an article dated June 11, 1841 and commented in a 1842 report. It was furthered by French poet Alcanter de Brahm in the 19th century. Both of these marks were represented visually by a backwards question mark, ؟ (in Unicode: U+2E2E ⸮ reversed question mark (HTML:
⸮)). Using LaTeX, one can display it by including the graphicx package, and then using
These punctuation marks are primarily used to indicate that a sentence should be understood at a second level. A bracketed exclamation point or question mark as well as scare quotes are also sometimes used to express irony or sarcasm.
Percontation point 
The modern question mark (? U+003F) is descended from the "punctus interrogativus" (described as "a lightning flash, striking from right to left"), but unlike the modern question mark, the punctus interrogativus may be contrasted with the punctus percontativus—the former marking questions that require an answer while the latter marks rhetorical questions.
This percontation point (؟), later also referred to as a rhetorical question mark, was invented by Henry Denham in the 1580s and was used at the end of a question that does not require an answer—a rhetorical question. Its use died out in the 17th century. It was the reverse of an ordinary question mark, so that instead of the main opening pointing back into the sentence, it opened away from it. This character can be represented using the reversed question mark (؟) found in Unicode as U+2E2E; another character approximating it is the Arabic question mark (؟), U+061F.
A sentence ending with an interrobang (‽) can be used to ask a rhetorical question in addition to expressing excitement or disbelief in the form of a question.
Irony mark 
The irony mark or irony point (؟) (French: point d’ironie) is a punctuation mark proposed by the French poet Alcanter de Brahm (alias Marcel Bernhardt) at the end of the 19th century used to indicate that a sentence should be understood at a second level (irony, sarcasm, etc.). It is illustrated by a small, elevated, backward-facing question mark.
It was in turn taken by Hervé Bazin in his book Plumons l’Oiseau ("Let's pluck the bird," 1966), where the author however used another (ψ-like) shape. In doing this, the author proposed five other innovative punctuation marks: the "doubt point" (), "certitude point" (), "acclamation point" (), "authority point" (), and "love point" ().
Scare quotes 
Scare quotes are a particular use of quotation marks. They are placed around a word or phrase to indicate that it is not used in the fashion that the writer would personally use it. In contrast to the nominal typographic purpose of quotation marks, the enclosed words are not necessarily quoted from another source. When read aloud, various techniques are used to convey the sense, such as prepending the addition of "so-called" or a similar word or phrase of disdain, using a sarcastic or mocking tone, or using air quotes, or any combination of the above.
Temherte slaqî 
In certain Ethiopic languages, sarcasm and unreal phrases are indicated at the end of a sentence with a sarcasm mark called temherte slaqî or temherte slaq (U+00A1) ( ¡ ), a character that looks like the inverted exclamation point.
Other typography 
Rhetorical questions in some informal situations can use a bracketed question mark, e.g. "Oh, really[?]"—The equivalent for an ironic or sarcastic statement would be a bracketed exclamation mark, e.g. "Oh, really[!]". Subtitles, such as in Teletext, sometimes use an exclamation mark within brackets or parentheses to mark sarcasm: (!). Likewise, Karl Marx uses the exclamation mark within brackets repeatedly throughout Das Kapital, Volume 1. For example, in one instance, to ridicule Colonel Torrens:
The problem is in no way simplified if extraneous matters are smuggled in, as with Colonel Torrens: "effectual demand consists in the power and inclination [!], on the part of the consumers, to give for commodities, either by immediate or circuitous barter...".
The question mark can also be used as a "meta" sign to signal uncertainty regarding what precedes. It is usually put between parentheses ["(?)"]. The uncertainty may concern either a superficial aspect of the text (such as unsure spelling) or a deeper level of meaning.
It is common in online conversation among computer specialists to use a pseudo-HTML element:
</sarcasm>. The tag is often written only after the sarcasm so as to momentarily trick the reader before admitting the joke. Similarly, and common in social-news-based sites, is a single
/s placed at the end of a comment to indicate a sarcastic tone for the preceding text. "Rolling eyes" and ":P" emoticons are often used as well, particularly in instant messaging, while a Twitter-style hashtag, #sarcasm, is also gaining currency.
Emoticons can also be used in text, most often in informal writing, to denote sarcasm.
Some people have attempted to augment this emotional gap in the English language through the creation of a "SarcMark."
In some internet forums, green text is used to signify irony.
See also 
- Marcellin JOBARD, "Industrie française: rapport sur l'exposition de 1839 - Volume II, p. 350-351." (French industry, report on the 1839 exhibition, Vol 2 pp.350-351 (french text available on-line)
- Flynn, Peter. Typography. TUGboat, vol. 28, issue 2, p. 172-173. 2007
- Proposal to add Medievalist and Iranianist punctuation characters to the UCS by Michael Everson, Peter Baker, Marcus Dohnicht, António Emiliano, Odd Einar Haugen, Susana Pedro, David J. Perry, Roozbeh Pournader.
- Truss, Lynne. Eats, Shoots & Leaves, 2003. p. 142. ISBN 1-59240-087-6.
- Claude Augé, ed. (1897–1905), "Ironie (irony)", Nouveau Larousse illustré 5, Paris, p. 329
- Bazin, Hervé (1966), Plumons l’oiseau, Paris (France): Éditions Bernard Grasset, p. 142
- Revised preliminary proposal to encode six punctuation characters introduced by Hervé Bazin in the UCS by Mykyta Yevstifeyev and Karl Pentzlin, Feb. 28, 2012
- "Nieuw: een leesteken voor ironie". Stichting Collectieve Propaganda van het Nederlandse Boek (CPNB) (in Dutch). 2007-03-13. Archived from the original on 2008-10-03. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- "Leesteken moet ironie verduidelijken". Nieuwsblad.be (in Dutch). 2007-03-15. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- Asteraye Tsigie, Berhanu Beyene, Daniel Aberra, Daniel Yacob (1999). "A Roadmap to the Extension of the Ethiopic Writing System Standard Under Unicode and ISO-10646". 15th International Unicode Conference. p. 6.
- Marx, Karl (1976 ), Das Kapital, Volume 1, Penguin Classics, p. 264, ISBN 0-14-044568-4
- "Nieuw leesteken waarschuwt voor sarcasme en ironie (New punctuation mark warns of sarcasm and irony)". HLN.BE (Het Laatste Nieuws, België) (in Dutch). 2010-10-18. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- "Let's Figure This Out - Read This First! journal entry".