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Question mark

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Missing image
Question_mark_alternate.png
A question mark
Missing image
Inverted_question_mark_alternate.png
An inverted question mark

A question mark (or, less commonly, an interrogation point) is a punctuation mark that replaces the period at the end of an interrogative sentence. It can also be used mid-sentence to mark a merely interrogative phrase, where it functions similarly to a comma, such as in the sentence "where shall we go? and what shall we do?," but this usage is increasingly rare. The question mark is not used for indirect questions.

The symbol is generally thought to originate from the Latin quaestio, meaning "question," which was abbreviated to Qo. The uppercase Q was written above the lowercase o, and this mark was transformed into the modern symbol. Another hypothesis about the origin of the question mark proposes that the mark originated in the 9th century, when it appeared as a point followed by the curvy bit written slanted (similar to the tilde, although the tilde was tilted more upward to the right). The point has always indicated the end of a sentence. The curved line represented the intonation pattern of a spoken question, and may be associated with a kind of early musical notation, like neumes.

In some languages, such as Spanish, typography since the 18th century has had question mark being be opened and closed; an interrogative sentence or phrase begins with an inverted question mark () and ends with the question mark (?). However, this orthographical convention is often disregarded in quick typing and where the inverted character is not easily available from computer keyboards. In Greek, a semicolon (;) is used as a question mark. In Arabic, the question mark "؟" is mirrored. The question mark is also used in Chinese and Korean.

The rhetorical question mark first appeared in the 1580s and was used at the end of a rhetorical question. 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 usage gradually disappeared in the 1600s.

Contents

Computing

In computing, the question mark is represented as Unicode and ASCII character 63 or 0x003F. The inverted question mark corresponds to Unicode character 191 (0x00BF), and can be accessed from the keyboard in some versions (depends on ANSI codepage) of Microsoft Windows by holding the [Alt] key and typing 0 1 9 1 on the numeric keypad. In GNOME applications, it can be entered by typing the hexadecimal Unicode character while holding ctrl-shift, i.e.: ctrl-shift BF - ¿. In recent XFree86 and X.Org incarnations of the X Window System, it can be accessed as a compose sequence of two straight question marks, i.e. pressing <Compose> ? ? yields .

The question mark is used in ASCII renderings of the International Phonetic Alphabet, such as SAMPA in place of the glottal stop symbol (which resembles "?" without the dot), and corresponds to Unicode character U+0294 Latin letter glottal stop .

In computer programming, the symbol "?" appears in several programming languages. In C it is part of the ?: operator, which is used for simple boolean conditions. In the POSIX syntax for regular expressions, such as the one used in Perl and Python, ? stands for "zero or one instance of the previous subexpression", i. e. an optional element.

In many web browsers, "?" is used to show a character not found in the program's character set.

Chess

Punctuation marks

apostrophe ( ' ) ( )
brackets ( ( ) ) ( [ ] ) ( { } ) ( Template:Unicode )
colon ( : )
comma ( , )
dashes ( Template:Unicode ) ( ) ( ) ( )
ellipsis ( ) ( ... )
exclamation mark ( ! )
full stop/period ( . )
hyphen ( - ) ( Template:Unicode )
interrobang ( Template:Unicode )
question mark ( ? )
quotation marks ( ‘ ’ ) ( “ ” )
semicolon ( ; )
slash/solidus ( / )
space (   ) and interpunct ( )

Other typographer's marks

ampersand ( & )
asterisk ( * ) and asterism ( Template:Unicode )
at ( @ )
backslash ( \ )
bullet ( , more )
dagger ( † ‡ )
degrees ( ° )
number sign ( # )
prime ( )
tilde ( ~ )
underscore ( _ )
vertical bar/pipe ( | )

In algebraic chess notation, "?" denotes a bad move, and "??" a blunder. For details see punctuation (chess).

Mathematics

In mathematics "?" denotes the Minkowski question mark function.

See also

References

  • Ellen Lupton and J. Abbott Miller, Period Styles: A Punctuated History
  • M. B. Parkes, Pause and effect: an introduction to the history of punctuation in the West

External links

Template:Commons

es:Signo de interrogacin eo:Demandosigno fi:Kysymysmerkki fr:Point d'interrogation he:סימן שאלה ja:疑問符 nl:Vraagteken pt:Ponto de interrogao sr:Знак питања zh:問號

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