When Aldus Manutius, the “King of Printers”, invented modern punctuation marks back in the 15th century, he almost certainly couldn’t have imagined how written communication would eventually grow as prolific and dense as it has with e-mails, WhatsApp, Messanger and the like. With gestures and vocal tonality missing in these digital means of communication, how often are messages misunderstood or misinterpreted? And in an attempt to avoid these mishaps, we use semicolons, hyphens, and parentheses to construct smileys and other emojis to showcase the mood or context of the message — but even so, misunderstandings are inevitable.
The next evolutionary step in the world of punctuation comes from Walter Bohatsch, a renown Austrian graphic designer, and typographer, in the form of a book cleverly titled Typojis, opening up entirely new possibilities of written communication. His book entails the development of 30 new punctuation marks enabling clearer nuances and emotional undertones, such as irony, curiosity, optimism, exaggeration, yearning, boredom, etc., aiming to achieve the same effortless communication as in spoken language. The book illustrates the typojis’ semantic meanings by juxtaposing them with symbolic photographs, and shows how the typojis actually came to have their final form. The book also invites you to try writing these new characters for the first time—making your copy a unique exemplar. See all of the 30 typojis and their meanings here.
In our present era of “fake news,” renewed importance is being placed on statements’ clarity and unambiguousness. New punctuation marks can be of special help, here. And while they may yet take some getting used to, we need only remember how the difference between a question mark and an exclamation mark was also something we once had to learn… – explains Walter Bohatsch.