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Culture —– Spanish Symbols ¿?

by Brandi

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September 6th, 2010

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Many times people have asked, “What is the ‘¿’ sign at the beginning of questions in Spanish?” (please see Words of the Week, above, for an example). It is officially called (drum roll)… the “upside-down question mark.” It is located at the beginning of any Spanish sentence that is a question.

Many people think, “Why on earth does Spanish have an upside down question mark?” Actually, you will see as we talk about it, that it makes a lot of sense. You may even want to petition the people that create English grammar rules and get them to put an upside-down question mark in the English language.

Let me explain why you would need an upside-down question mark at the beginning of a sentence and how it could assist you. When I was in a High School English class, we read quite a few short stories and plays aloud. The whole class would follow along and some students would take turns reading different parts or paragraphs. I remember on more than one occasion, when I was reading a long paragraph, all of a sudden, I would get to the end and realize there was a question mark. The problem was that I had read the whole paragraph as if it were really a statement. I would then try to compensate and make my voice change at the last minute so it sounded more like a question. I know I must have sounded ridiculous trying to change my voice at the last minute and I was always a little embarrassed when this would happen to me.

Any chance this has that ever happened to you?

With the upside-down question mark, that never happens in Spanish because you see that a sentence is a question right from the very beginning! No more awkward “end of sentence voice change to compensate for question mark” phobia or embarrassment.

I truly love the Spanish language and all the cool little things they have like the “upside-down question mark.” Maybe with this newsletter, we can start a grass-roots effort to maybe change the English language and add the “upside-down question mark”! Call your senator or parliament representative today, or maybe even forward them this e-mail so we can avoid “end of sentence voice change to compensate for question mark” phobia and embarrassment once and for all!

Anyway, if you cannot tell, I love the Spanish language and hope that through this newsletter and by learning Spanish with our Visual Link Spanish™ course, you will gain the same love for it that I have.

To learn more Spanish words, please visit our website www.spanishprograms.com

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