An interrobang meets a certitude mark in 1910s Germany ...
September 6, 2016 4:22 PM   Subscribe

Okay, what the heck is this thing? A friend who studies Comparative Literature found an unidentifiable punctuation mark that looks like a cross between a double-dagger, an exclamation point, and a hyphen, pictured here.

The time period is roughly Germany in 1910 or thereabouts, the word is "Wir!" (meaning, I think, "us" or "we") and the punctuation mark looks like Hervé Bazin's proposed "certitude mark", only Bazin proposed his in 1966. It's a bit of a long shot (though much longer shots have certainly hit the mark, here), so I was hoping that everyone could find a reason to visit their elderly German grandparent with a penchant for cursive!
posted by jpolchlopek to Writing & Language (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It's called a "double dagger".
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:48 PM on September 6, 2016 [4 favorites]

I think you're assuming that the period at the bottom is part of it; I don't think so. A double-dagger would be used to indicate a footnote on a page which already used an asterisk for one. And it's at the end of a sentence, as indicated by the period under it.

So I don't think it's anything unusual; it's just a double-dagger.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:57 PM on September 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Is there any way to get an image of the whole page, so we can see if there's a footnote or not?
posted by languagehat at 1:10 PM on September 7, 2016

It isn't necessarily at the end of that page; it could be on a different page consisting only of footnotes. It's handwritten; putting it on the bottom of the page isn't easy since you may not know how long it's going to turn out to be.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:25 PM on September 7, 2016

Hi, folks. As an update, myself and my colleague are leaning towards calling this one unsolveable. There is no footnote on that page or any subsequent pages. The most likely answer is that someone decided that "Wir" didn't warrant an exclamation point, and just scratched it out, though we hold out some vague hope that maybe there's some obscure punctuation mark that was used. Our thanks to those who looked and contributed!
posted by jpolchlopek at 7:01 AM on September 8, 2016

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