The Question Mark -Gevorg Emin


The Question Mark -Gevorg Emin

English version – Translation by: Diana der Hovanessia

Google docs: This is a fancier version that’s open for suggestions.



Essay by: Samuel Mork Bednarz


Like any good art the question mark has a thousand faces. Meaning that it can be interpreted in a variety of ways to fit a variety of life situations but at base bottom it is at minimum always concerned with a sort of change from a position of confidence to a position of doubt or insecurity.

From this rather vague base any number of situations can fit it, but i am mainly going to argue for its base. Meaning the bare minimum that all things analogous to the poem has to have in order to be a good analogy.

The Question Mark

Poor thing. Poor crippled measure
of punctuation. Who would know,
who could imagine you used to be
an exclamation point?
What force bent you over?
Age, time and the vices
of this century?
Did you not once evoke,
call out and stress?
But you got weary of it all,
got wise, and turned like this.

-Gevorg Emin
Translated by: Diana Der Hovanessian


The question mark is a poem depicting the question mark as a victim to change, questioning its decline from the status of the exclamation point in an analogy equating language as a representation of the human behavior and self perception.

Poem Anatomy

I will proceed to dissect the poem and look for any theme necessary for any analogy of the poem.

  • Beginning.

“Poor thing. Poor crippled measure

of punctuation.” Who would know,

who could imagine you used to be

an exclamation point?

Immediately one establishes the weakness of the subject and formulating it as a decline. This suggests that the question mark is in a negative state relative to its previous phase. meaning that any analogy would be better if it also equates to a thing that is a lesser form of itself, as opposed to what it used to be.

Example: “Dad used to be such a strong man, now he can barely move out of bed”

  • Middle

What force bent you over?

Age, time and the vices

of this century?

Here we reflect and question its decline. This is really open to many interpretations. At bottom it’s simply a further build upon its decile asking for a reason but not demanding any one answer. Any could fit.

Example 01: “Our generation has grown to be doubtful of themselves by the the way that we keep questioning our own opinions, beliefs and the things we say in relation to the rise of the information highway on the internet making us aware that we might be fact checked at any time”;

Example 02: “In light of recent science we have learned that the universe is far crazier than we thought and as our assumptions keep being challenged we learned to never quite think that we know what we think that we know.”;

  • End

Did you not once evoke,

call out and stress?

But you got weary of it all,

got wise, and turned like this.

Here we end on the final transformation ending the poem with “and turned like this” referring to the question mark that the subject has become . it also questions its resistance, its rebellion against its own change but as this is stated as a question any analogy does not need to rebel against its change in order to fit as an analogy. we are simply asking it if it did rebel. if it didnt the question is still as relevant as it would have been if it did so to conclude the end also simply requires a sense of giving in to the change and becoming its lesser self.

Example 01: “it asks why we never resisted the change, asking if we did not call out against the degradation of our confidence”;

Example 02: “it talks about how we got tired of rebelling got wise and realised it was not worth the fight.”;

In order for an analogy to be analogous to the poem it simply needs to have made any sort of change for a lesser state.

In addition these points help: “it has resisted its change”, “it has made change due to time/age or vices(bad cultural habits/moral failure/sin)”;

Final opinion.

It’s a good poem with a readable rhythm and a relatable message that will be relevant to anyone reading it and thusly valuable for most if not any culture or personal dilemma. Through questioning your/our decline it also makes us attempt to identify our own problems. And in its way of pointing it out like it was not expecting our downfall it also encourages us to rebel against it, an unexpected effect of making us aware of our change.

Addendum- Side Note.

Finally i would like to point out a that analysing the concept by itself without the flavor of the narrator’s opinion it is not entirely self sustaining to claim that the question mark is the lesser status.

If one is clear about the question mark as a state of uncertainty and the exclamation point as a state of certainty it is also not entirely irrelevant to mention that although confidence might be considered the superior state it is also a more ignorant one. The intelligent man never assumes to know anything and to do so would be a sign of arrogance, but at the same time the other extreme depicts a person that might question himself to much and for the wrong reasons. like that of self doubt or an inferiority complex.

Either way the poem starts off depicting the question mark as the lesser state of itself so it is reasonable to assume the poem revolves around the subject becoming less and questioning to much. but this additional reflection still carries value to the discussion.


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