Here is my candidate for a new punctuation mark:
Does the name sound mildly proctological? Yes—that’s part of its charm. Does the world need this? No. Regardless, there is a situation that comes up quite often where the conventional menu of marks seems somehow lacking: when the direct object of an interrogative statement references an example, a URL or another statement in a follow-on block of text. This is especially true when using text messaging, but comes up in technical documents, etc. In the following statement, for example, the direct object “this” would seem to be the focus of the question:
Actually though, it could very well be in reference to the next statement, which may not even be present—text messaging being the most obvious example. A colon would draw attention to the fact that there is follow-on text; replacing the question mark with a colon makes the question implied but seems somehow less forceful. Using a colon after the question mark better reflects what is desired, but this is generally frowned upon:
None of these possibilities have ever seemed right to me. I’ve always itched for something else to turn to. What we really want here is a combination of a question mark and a colon, that is, an interrocolon. The name is of course derivative of the otherwise loathsome interrobang.
What should this mark look like? The question mark and colon can’t be combined effectively as was attempted (poorly) with the interrobang. One possibility would be to revive the progenitor of the question mark itself, the medieval punctus interrogativus1,2:
Another possibility is to use a comma in place of the dot in a question mark, let’s call it an “interrocomma”:
2An example of this mark can be seen here:
From: M. B. Parkes. Pause and Effect: Punctuation in the West. 1993.