Why are there two interrogation marks in spanish?
Why is there an interrogation mark in front and one in the back when asked a question in Spanish?
¿ a donde vas?
Have you ever been reading aloud in English and get to the end of a long sentence only to realize that it is not a statement but a question? And you worry about how to put that last little 'up' sound in your voice when you've only got the last syllable to work with?
Well, worry no more! Because in Spanish you know right from the get-go that you're dealing with an inflection-rising question. Gone are the days of uncertainty. With Spanish all the cards are on the table. No gimmicks, no hidden fees...
Spanish doesn't have question words such as in the English question: Did you do it?
A way to directly translate that into Spanish is: ¿Lo hiciste? Did you do it?
If you take out the ¿?, you have a statement: Lo hiciste. You did it.
When speaking, you can inflect to show it is a question. In writing that is not possible and therefore you need the ¿?. And once you do it for one kind of question, you look silly if you don't do it for them all.
I guess you could ask "Why is there only one question mark in English?"
One thing about the upside down question mark is, that you do not need to place it at the beginning of the sentence.
Fuimos al parque, ¿Es así?
We went to the park, right?
I do think that it is much better when reading to have the question mark to start the question to make it easier to have proper intonation.
I am not totally sure why they have them but if you notice spanish is sort of backwards from english. We say i don't know and they say no sé. They tend to like to emphasize what they are saying so I believe it is more for emphasis then anything. I am not sure if I am totally correct though.
If you think about the logic of it, it is quite intelligent to start a sentence with a question mark to indicate what you are about to read is a question. Without that, you have to read a few words first to know whether it will be a question or not.
In the early days before computers it must have been very difficult turning your typewriter upside down every time you wanted to put a question mark at the beginning.
I was going to say something similar to Lasairfiona but it's the grammar rather than the words in English, the word did doesn't always indicate a question
Did you do it? Being the question
You did do it. Being a statement.
Of course if you say "You did do it?" with the intonation of a question it becomes one, just as in spanish.