21
$\begingroup$

What am I?

  1. I will never be written, that surely would be impossible.

  2. For thousands of years I was unused for practical purposes.

  3. Reputedly the Irish invented me?

  4. Nowadays I am often literally omitted – which can lead to embarrassment.

  5. You may see me as part of a crossword answer – then again you wouldn’t.

  6. The English use me after; the French before and after.

  7. I appear three times in the title.
$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Irish did something with word separation. $\endgroup$ – Klyzx May 4 '16 at 8:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thanks Xylius! You could write as an answer - and put in spoiler tags using >! at the start of each line - with some explanations. Best wishes. $\endgroup$ – Tom May 4 '16 at 8:46
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ I feel the last hint makes the answer too obvious. This one would be much better without it. Nice one tho $\endgroup$ – Mario Garcia May 4 '16 at 9:34
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @MarioGarcia I think the 6th hint also gives it away instantly. As for the last one, it might have been better to be worded as "you've already come across me". Then it would require some thinking to translate it to "I appear somewhere in this page" and even then, there would be quite a few red herrings. $\endgroup$ – Reti43 May 4 '16 at 9:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @ Reti43 I guess the clues are a bit easy, but the puzzle still requires considerable effort to explain all aspects of it and give a complete answer, so +1 for that! And it was fun to do which is the most important part! $\endgroup$ – Xylius May 4 '16 at 10:32
23
$\begingroup$

The answer is:

~space~ ( )

  1. I will never be written, that surely would be impossible.

    It can't technically be written as it is just a gap, and hence some space would just be left to indicate a space.

  2. For thousands of years I was unused for practical purposes.

    Ancient scripts were comprised of multi part pictures to create a word, such as the Egyptians hieroglyphs and the Mayan writings, hence using spaces was not necessary and also saved space as old methods of writing were through carving, and carvings tended to be large, hence any space was used to the maximum.

  3. Reputedly the Irish invented me?

    It has reportedly been noted in history that the Irish first invented this, though I'm not sure where the origins of this might be, if anyone can provide further explanation, that would be great thanks! EDIT: Thanks to @MontyHarder for this one, the Irish first invented spaces by using a hyphen-like syntax to indicate a break in the rune sequence, and was hence the end of the word.

  4. Nowadays I am often literally omitted – which can lead to embarrassment.

    First of all, thanks to @Kate Gregory for the explanation for this one. Many sequences of words, when the spaces in between them are removed can sadly be misinterpreted. And thus cause embarrassment such as in URLs. I'll leave you to look at @Kate Gregory's comment for examples...

  5. You may see me as part of a crossword answer – then again you wouldn’t.

    Crosswords answers don't use spaces when filling in the boxes. But they are also present before you fill them in.

  6. The English use me after; the French before and after.

    This refers to the different styles of punctuation convention in French and English typesetting. English typesetting only requires a space after syntax such as a single space after a colon, or in the case of the puzzle clue, after the semi colon (; ). Whereas the French use spacing so both before and after the semicolon ( ; )

  7. I appear three times in the title.

    The title has three spaces in it.

$\endgroup$
  • 12
    $\begingroup$ for embarrassment, consider the (possibly mythical) Pen Island and the URL they ended up with, or Experts Exchange which some people call Expert Sex Change, again dure to their URL. I think "nowadays" is likely to refer to URLs. $\endgroup$ – Kate Gregory May 4 '16 at 11:18
  • $\begingroup$ @KateGregory Haha, you make a good point, I'll be sure to add that in :) $\endgroup$ – Xylius May 4 '16 at 11:30
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Relevant: Alot $\endgroup$ – March Ho May 4 '16 at 13:07
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @KateGregory Not to mention when Susan Boyle publicised the "susan album party" via a twitter hashtag with no spaces. $\endgroup$ – user2390246 May 4 '16 at 13:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Once upon a time, I was taught to write a slashed b to represent this punctuation mark on paper in preparation for sitting at the card-punch machine to type it all in. So in a sense, it's writeable. $\endgroup$ – Monty Harder May 4 '16 at 14:19
4
$\begingroup$

Is it

The Space character
It appears three times in the title and you don't write it, just leave a gap
You also miss it out in crosswords but commas are used in the clues.
The French use a space before two part punctuation like the semicolon in the clue, and the English only space after.

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.