Talk:Question mark

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I remember reading that the question mark originated from an older convention of writing "q." after an interrogative sentence. The hand-written "q." became our "?". But I don't have a reference to cite.

AmirOnWiki (talk) 09:47, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

I'm beginning to doubt the idea that there is an unbroken history of the question mark *as question mark*. In a number of Renaissance texts (Kyd's Spanish Tragedy, Middleton's The Revenger's Tragedy, and Heywood's A Woman Killed with Kindness, all from around 1600), the question mark is used as an exclamation mark and no special character is used to denote questions. That would mean that searching for a Latin origin in some interrogative word beginning with Q could be a blind alley, and that there must have been a shift in meaning (from exclamation to interrogation) after at least 1607 (the date for the latest version of the texts I've read). Anyone seen anything about this?

Glitterspont (talk) 06:57, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

Who wants to be a question mark[edit]

From the Who_wants_to_be_a_millionaire? article:

Both versions [of the show] omit the question mark from their official titles due to a superstition about question marks in film and TV productions.

Anyone know anything about thish

-- 03:31, 3 Apr 2005 (UTC)

"question marks rock ya look!" —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:52, 10 January 2010 (UTC)


In US English it is also called a query.

I've never heard the question mark called a query, and I've lived in the US my whole life. Tuf-Kat 23:56, Mar 17, 2004 (UTC)

Inverted Question Mark[edit]

Considering Inverted Question redirects here... would anyone be able to add more information on it? If not how it developed and caught on, at least what the other “some languages” are in addition to Spanish.

-- 00:51, 12 July 2005 (UTC)

Galician also uses inverted question marks. I'm adding it now. --Pinzo 00:12, 11 August 2005 (UTC)

Yes, but in Galician it's not compulsory since 2003 (see official rules in, in Galician). Thanks. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:52, 23 February 2011 (UTC)


It seems to me that "quaestio" does not mean "question" in Latin. There is "what" (quisnam, quidnam, qui quae que quod). There is "why" (cur, quamobrem, quare). There is "where" (quatenus/quatinus). There is "how" (quemadmodum).

I don't think it does mean question ... anyone verify?

Variations in foreign languages and in history[edit]

The article says the question mark is used in Chinese and Korean. Shouldn't Japanese also be on the list? PeepP 14:56, August 14, 2005 (UTC)

I thought Japanese used the hira-gana character for 'ka' to indicate questions? Glitterspont (talk) 06:59, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

In Japanese, some questions end in か, others can end in の, or other characters in different dialects, and some questions are only denoted by intonation (ex. 何? どこ? etc.). It is true, though, that the question mark is often not used for questions. (talk) 02:00, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

Any confirmation that semicolon is used in Greek to indicate a question? See Talk:semicolon. — DIV ( 15:51, 1 June 2007 (UTC))

Incorrect Image[edit]

The image of the inverted question mark, is merely mirrored horizontally, but it actually also should be mirrored vertically; it's incorrect the way it is --Allycat 20:56, 8 October 2005 (UTC)

It's still incorrect. 4 November 2005 (

Maybe we should take it out for now, until it's fixed Rmpfu89 21:49, 4 November 2005 (UTC)

Hopefully it's better now Vadmium 05:03, 5 November 2005 (UTC)


This article says "?" redirects here, but on my computer, it redirects to the Main Page. SCHZMO 09:59, 13 June 2006 (UTC)

This is because ? is a character that should be escaped in urls, otherwise it's interpreted as the seperator between the actual url and the parameters.
If you use the search box, ? should be automatically escaped. Shinobu 17:29, 13 June 2006 (UTC)


Am I the only person that was taught that the origin of the question mark was the shape of the cat's tail when it is curious? Scix 11:11, 1 July 2006 (UTC)

No. You have just taught all of us, as well! :) Noetica 11:17, 1 July 2006 (UTC)
hehe, I guess I just doscovered another piece of childhood mythology. Scix 13:16, 2 July 2006 (UTC)
AHA! According to Revision as of 17:40, 6 August 2006 -- I am NOT the only one:
Yet another theory is that a Latin monk owned a cat, and while he was writing, his cat was curious about his work. When cats are questioning or curious, the tail forms into a shape like the upper part of the question mark, and the dot comes from the cat's anus. The monk then used this symbol and it spread from there.
I wish I knew the source for this story, it would be worth at least a footnote. Scix 15:27, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

I was taught that it derived from the letter 'Q', from the fact that in Latin questions began with this letter. (talk) 13:27, 23 November 2007 (UTC)

Gelded question mark[edit]

It would be help if the article addressed the Gelded question mark used in IPA.

Ghosts&empties 16:54, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

The Question Mark as a Responsibility-Deflecting Rhetorical Device[edit]

It seems to me that some reference could be made to the recent and increasing use of the question mark in media (notably its extensive useage in news crawl headlines on the Fox News Channel, CNN and elsewhere) as a device to introduce controversial, irresponsible or fringe ideas in a rhetorical, sensationalist, and even propagandistic manner that deflects responsibility for the idea from the person or organization stating it. It also serves a simultaneous role in that it promotes uncertainty and can generate an illusion of lack of consensus in the service of an ideology or specific point of view. Finally, using this device concepts can be invented out of whole cloth — but be made to look like they're under serious consideration — while avoiding attributing the invention to any individual or organization.

For a satirical analysis of the practice, see the Sep 13 2006 episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Some of the crawl headlines Stewart uses as examples are:

  • "Saddam & 9/11?" (CNN)
  • "Ever Safe Again?" (CNN)
  • "Apocalypse Now?" (CNN)
  • "End Times?" (CNN)
  • "Have the Democrats Forgotten the Lessons of 9/11?" (Fox News Channel)
  • "Why is America More Concerned About Economy Then(sic) Terror? (Fox News Channel)
  • "Media Preaching Hate in the Mideast?" (Fox News Channel)
  • "Is the Liberal Media Helping to Fuel Terror?" (Fox News Channel)

AllanX 22:36, 30 September 2006 (UTC)


Is the mirrored question mark as used with the Arabic script also used when writing Hebrew?

Apparently not. -- Beland 09:35, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Regular expressions?[edit]

Perl regular expressions are not POSIX. They are different dialects. See: Regular_expression#Syntax. There are three main dialects, namely 'traditional', 'extended' (POSIX) and 'Perl' (PCRE). 22:06, 28 February 2007 (UTC) Kosma

has anyone noticed how much a question mark looks like an ear? could there be some reason for this? I guess this is just a coincidence, but still entertaining to think about. -duncan ???? Duncansylvester 20:02, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

DuncanSylvester, I in fact DID notice that and have often asked this myself, not heard any citeable confirmation yet. Specifically it looks like a period . with an ear on top of it. As in, sentence is over. I'm listening now... Similarly the exclamation point gives the impression of a person standing up very straight, as one might do when surprised by something. It's my opinion that with no clearly known origin I accept that as the most probable inspiration for this symbol. Who knows tho.. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Tezcore (talkcontribs) 00:13, 8 December 2015 (UTC)

Quote needed[edit]

The shortest letter ever written was "?" to which the reply was "!". This was between famous people, and has significance in some larger dialog. It's too bad I can't remember who these two were.

It was a correspondence between Victor Hugo and Les Miserables Publisher. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:53, 4 September 2013 (UTC)

I wonder if a description of an indirect question should be included.[edit]

In the first paragraph of the article, the term 'indirect question' is used. I did not know what that was. I now think the Subject of this talk page section is an example. I had to leave Wiki to get some idea of what an indirect question is, the term searched in Wiki curiously being redirected to the page 'question', but not occurring in that article.

I see now that the 'External Links' section at the end of the 'question mark' article addresses 'indirect questions', but this is rather a tenuous connection when the question (about indirect questions) arises at the beginning of the article. Would an immediate link or footnote reference to the external link be possible/appropriate? I see the problem in belabouring a feature that doesn't use the wiki article's subject,the question mark, but still some immediate source where the term occurs would perhaps be best. Vainly perhaps, because I don't know, I think a number of people won't know what an indirect question is. (Is that last sentence another?). Questioning questions is quizzical.:-)

PS 'Question' article should have some mention of 'indirect question' as well?

Jauntymcd 14:10, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

Eroteme? can we have a citation or more information about this? it's not listed on Merriam Webster… —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:29, 27 April 2008 (UTC)

What is this called?[edit]

"؟" It's a question mark reversed, but what's it's name? (talk) 04:37, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

It's called an irony mark.Scwlong (talk) 02:34, 19 July 2008 (UTC)


While I don't have it on my keyboard, it's a combination "!" & "?", used to indicate surprise or emphasis. How's it related to the "?"? Rorschach gimme back my face!

Good question‽--Stanley Oliver (talk) 19:02, 7 May 2009 (UTC)

Is it at all related Dan 14:41, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

Standalone question mark is used in a flames[edit]


Also, standalone question mark without a sentence becomes popular today to be used in a (chat, and not only chat) flames.
A flames is not a big problem; the problem is, that I haven't seen anywhere an information/definition, that the sentence consisting of just a question mark is a flame part;
except that on some forums, admins are warning, that a threads topics or a posts containing multiple question and exclamation marks are subject to be removed.

For the first time I was getting those q marks (not knowing yet what they means), I was replying "I am getting question mark without a sentence from you", and got replies "I didn't understand you", "I don't know about what are you talking", "this thing I don't know" and others;
and such zero-result conversation took so much time, so I finally (after more than 10 of such events) understood that such conversation result is approximately the same as a flames have, and I had to stop it.

If anyone has also been enough bored with that, add a comment please; otherwise the problem will stay, and it is growing enough fast.
No it doesn't relates at an interlocutor's age; I've got such q marks and from 30 year old people, and also from 60 y.o. people, writing science books.

This theme does not deserve to be mentioned on the "Question mark" page; instead of describing an improper ways of usage of a thing, the page would better describe how a thing is used and what means.
But to discuss about the problem, I think here is a good place.

Alexander Ilyin 02:32, 23 November 2009 (UTC)

Experts said what?[edit]

"Experts have sometimes referred to the question mark as the hunchbacked midget, due to its curved shape."

Surely this merits deletion. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:36, 15 November 2011 (UTC)

Removed.--Rafy talk 12:11, 15 November 2011 (UTC)

BlackBerry App World — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:02, 29 February 2012 (UTC)

Diagrams in 'History'[edit]

The second diagram seems to differ from the first only in its inappropriate use of printed type to represent Medieval writing.

Also, this second diagram's caption is poorly formulated. A diagram claimed to be "showing the possible evolution of the question mark from Latin" is expected to prove impossible all evolutions but one. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:40, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

Greek punctuation mark[edit]

Yes, it really is known as the erotimatiko, so no that isn't subtle vandalism. It does need the Greek-letter format, though. — LlywelynII 02:43, 7 October 2014 (UTC)

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