Part of our current daily social-distancing routine, has been to watch the daily Met Opera's HD streamings


We enable the English subtitles. Many of them, however, contain puzzling question marks. One theory of ours is that they are used to distinguish different voices singing simultaneously.

Here's an example.


Here, the question marks--coming at the beginning of the lines--do certainly seem to denote different voices, but sometimes they awkwardly come in the middle of the text. And also,

second screen shot

which doesn't seem to make much sense.

I did note, however, in the recent showing of Elektra, there were no such question marks at all.

Are these question marks purposeful-as now appears to be the case, if not always artfully inserted--or some malfunction of one sort or another?

  • Can you add a screen shot of what you see? I imagine it some kind of software character encoding issue. Apr 22 '20 at 15:23
  • You added a link but nowhere in that link is there an example of what you are asking about.
    – user50691
    Apr 22 '20 at 17:12
  • New to the Internet? :-) . We see this sort of font-failure all over the place. Apr 23 '20 at 14:25
  • Not too new, I think! But this is a big deal with the Met HD streaming. Do you think the question marks appear for everyone watching, or might it depend upon your browser/machine? Apr 23 '20 at 23:33

Yes, this is some character encoding issue, often the result of a hyphen, en-dash, or em-dash.

In the upper example, the translation presumably uses one of these to separate different speakers:

–The painter was there.


The bottom example seems to be an em-dash:

The facts—who accuses me?

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