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The SarcMark And Its Benefits In Communication

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Nowadays, email exchange is a dominant form of both personal and business communication. In fact, it’s so commonplace that now there is a special feature that helps avoid one of it’s biggest blunders: the misinterpretation of words. 

The SarcMark, as it was formally introduced, is a punctuation mark that represents sarcasm. Below is the minute-long advertisement (direct link):

The SarcMark’s website has more information about the reasoning behind its invention:

Like most inventions, the SarcMark™ came to be out of necessity. Its creator, Douglas Sak, was writing an e-mail to a friend and was attempting to be sarcastic. It occurred to him that the English Language, and perhaps other languages, lacked a punctuation mark to denote sarcasm.

Sarcasm, Inc. was formed in 2006 to pursue this idea, and with a great deal of effort and undying support from family and friends, the punctuation mark for sarcasm came to life.

Despite treading on the unchartered territory of inventing a punctuation mark, the shareholders of Sarcasm, Inc. have been pleasantly surprised by the rate at which it has spread and the demand for the SarcMark™ to be available on additional platforms. Sarcasm, Inc. intends to relentlessly pursue development on new platforms and spread what is a simple idea, but absolutely necessary in the sarcastic world we live in today.

The SarcMark addresses a real problem in this world of constant written communication, and the early reactions to it show this. One article in the Guardian was especially complimentary of the new irony punctuation.

Its product, perhaps the most innovative and original of the century so far, is a punctuation mark for sarcasm. Although ­strangers to the mark might mistake it for a squiggle with a dot inside, the “SarcMark” will soon be turning up in our inboxes every day. The question that will baffle future generations is how we managed to live without it for so long.

It’s surprising, given the ­brilliance of the idea, that it has never been suggested before. ­Admittedly, French poet ­Alcanter de Brahm proposed using a ­backward-facing question mark to denote irony in the late 19th century. But that’s in no way similar to the scribbled brilliance of the SarcMark. And the fact that US writer andsatirist Josh Greenman proposed the upside-down exclamation mark as a “sarcasm point” in an article for Slate magazine in 2004 is equally ­immaterial.

While the SarcMark hasn’t quite caught on yet, the fact so many writers loved it initially, and the fact that it was invented at all, highlights a larger problem in today’s society: What is the best way to communicate online in the same way that you can in person?

We have recently covered, words matter in regard to employee satisfaction. Likewise, we must also emphasize that context of words are just as important. It’s always best to communicate in person and remove the uncertainty, but that simply isn’t always possible. Besides certain abbreviations such as LOL and j/k, we have only known the email that lacks the ability to show emotion. And even then confusion can still occur. The results: a varying amount of misinterpretations that may offend, discourage, challenge, or simply create reverse or unintentional reactions. And though the SarcMark aims to prevent this, it does not guarantee it. So, users beware!


© Flickr user Jhaymesisviphotography

The truth is, regardless of abbreviations or symbols, being cognizant of both language and altering points of view in an email is important when seeking proper, positive communication, particularly in the workplace. Contact our business consultants today to learn more about empowering stakeholders through effective and efficient communication that doesn’t depend on nonverbal cues for translation.

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