“LOL” FULFILLS AN HISTORIC NEED. Megan Garber in an article in the May Atlantic points out that “LOL” fulfills a long-felt need. She identifies a poet in the late 1800’s who proposed to indicate irony by a “pointe d’ironie” in the form of a backward question mark. Garber also cites some important writers who made similar proposals. Ambrose Bierce proposed a “snigger point” in the form of horizontal parenthesis to punctuate “every jocular or ironical sentence.” And Nabokov proposed creating “a special typographical sign for a smile”. Garber gives the history of the smiley face (developed at Carnegie Mellon in 1982) and describes “the new typography of irony”, such as emoticons and scare quotes. In its way “LOL” is often used to do what Bierce and Nabokov wanted a new punctuation mark to do.

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