I review some recent work on the formal semantics and pragmatics of emoji and provide a perspective and outlook.
While research on punctuation is growing, with respect to discussions of a comparative concept of grapheme, punctuation marks and their status within writing systems have been largely ignored. Instead, the focus has remained on ‘default graphemes’ (cf. Meletis 2020) which correspond straightforwardly with units like phonemes, syllables, or morphemes and are not only instrumental in forming meaning-bearing written units but also in classifying distinct phono- and morphographic writing systems (cf. Joyce & Borgwaldt 2011).
Indeed, from this typological perspective, it is striking that several punctuation marks – e.g., the period and the comma – appear to be quite universal, occurring across otherwise graphematically diverse writing systems. This implies formal and functional commonalities of particular relevance for universal processes involved in reading. Against this background, investigating whether punctuation signs as a whole are graphemes in the same way as ‘default graphemes’ or whether they even have to be classified as graphemes of any kind (and doing so under a descriptive lens) may be partially misdirected endeavors.
While different formal and functional classes of punctuation marks have been assumed in grapholinguistic analyses (cf. Gallmann 1985, Günther 1988, Bredel 2008), the resulting classifications were restricted to German. In this paper we will extend these analyses, revealing that marks that appear more stable both formally and functionally across different writing systems may be more connected to general cognitive (or reading-instructive) functions while system-specific marks assume – similar to default graphemes – linguistic functions tied to specific languages. Crucially, the transition between universal and system-specific is fluid: For example, in German, the comma is used for indicating non-subordination and to separate clauses (cf. Bredel & Primus 2007), while in Chinese, the comma routinely occurs between independent clauses and can separate a subject from its predicate, with a separate comma <、> being used in enumerations. Thus, while encompassing several graphematic functions, the comma’s universal task is to indicate syntactic boundaries for the parsing of sentences. By contrast, other marks appear system-specific, e.g., the Chinese title marks <《》>. What must also be accounted for is formal variation (compare, e.g., <.> in German with <。> in Chinese) and its functional implications.
The result of our analysis is a scalar and cross-grapholinguistic graphematic classification of punctuation useful in investigating general questions of comparative punctuation research: How do writing systems differ regarding ‘universal’ and more specific punctuation units? How can the historical development of punctuation be (re-)interpreted in this context? What are relevant psycholinguistic implications?
Bredel, Ursula (2008): Die Interpunktion des Deutschen: Ein kompositionelles System zur Online-Steuerung des Lesens (= Linguistische Arbeiten, 522). Tübingen: Niemeyer. DOI: 10.1515/ 9783484970502.
Bredel, Ursula & Beatrice Primus (2007): Komma & Co: Zwiegespräch zwischen Grammatik und Performanz. Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft 26.1: 81-131. DOI: 10.1515/ZFS.2007.006.
Gallmann, Peter (1985): Graphische Elemente der geschriebenen Sprache: Grundlagen für eine Reform der Orthographie (= Reihe Germanistische Linguistik, 60). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter. DOI: 10.1515/9783111630380.
Günther, Hartmut (1988): Schriftliche Sprache: Strukturen geschriebener Wörter und ihre Verarbeitung beim Lesen (= Konzepte der Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft, 40). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter. DOI: 10.1515/9783110935851.
Joyce, Terry & Susanne R. Borgwaldt (2011): Typology of writing systems: special issue introduction. Written Language and Literacy 14.1: 1-11. DOI: 10.1075/wll.14.1.01joy.
Meletis, Dimitrios (2020): The nature of writing. A theory of grapholinguistics (= Grapholinguistics and Its Applications, 3). Brest: Fluxus Editions. DOI: 10.36824/2020-meletis.
Section A: Concrete punctuation marks in single languages
In spite of the recent research surge in the field of punctuation (Rössler et al. (eds.) 2021), there are still, to our knowledge, only two corpus studies of ongoing change in (English) punctuation: Leech et al.’s (2009: 244–246; 311–312) remarks on recent changes and Sun & Wang’s (2019) big-data-inspired survey. Our study seeks to narrow this gap by investigating change in Swedish punctuation practices in 30-year increments like Leech et al. – in our case between 1990 and 2020.
Our data come from a recently compiled corpus of Swedish newspapers, research articles and PhD theses from 1990 and 2020 with 100,000 words from each genre and year. Similar to Leech at al. (2009), we relate our findings to the trends of colloquialization (the spread of informal features to formal genres), prescriptive influence and increasing text condensation. Unlike Leech et al., we will also consider genre differences.
This corpus study covers a wide range of punctuation marks having undergone change in their use and frequencies. Two notable examples of changing punctuation practices relate to dashes and brackets. Examples are given in (1) and (2):
(1) Det här är en skyttekung av historiska mått – tre år i rad vinnare av allsvenska skytteligan: 1973 (20 mål), […].
[‘this is a leading goal-scorer of historic proportions – three years in a row best goal-scorer in the top division: 1973 (20 goals) […]’] (newspaper; 1990)
(2) Den kunde spåras till – men har aldrig officiellt erkänts av – Kina (se Coward & Bjola, 2016).
[‘it could be traced to – but has never been officially recognized by – China (see Coward & Bjola, 2016)’] (research article; 2020)
We find that dashes are more frequent in newspapers than in academic writing (articles and PhD theses combined), but, as in Leech et al.’s British English material (2009), there is an overall decrease in frequency. As dashes are considered colloquial in nature (Leech et al. 2009: 245), this suggests an “anti-colloquialization” trend, likely caused by prescriptive pressure (cf. TT-språket, n.d.). As exemplified in (2), academic writing has a relatively high proportion of sentence-medial dashes, indicating a stronger preference for embedded phrases or clauses, while news contains more sentence-final instances, as illustrated in (1) (cf. Ström Herold & Levin fc).
Brackets, being “more typical of serious written style” (Leech et al. 2009: 246), are many times more frequent in academic writing, where they are increasing, than in newspapers, where they are decreasing. This indicates, on the one hand, a trend towards text condensation and specialization in academic writing, and potentially colloquialization in newspapers, on the other. In newspapers, brackets typically contain brief factual additions (as in (1); cf. Levin & Ström Herold 2021), while their main function in academic writing relates to the introduction of sources (as in (2)).
Our study illustrates how “small and tidy” corpora (Mair 2006) can be used to map ongoing change and variation in punctuation. In particular, it shows that genre and function are crucial in the study of punctuation.
Leech, Geoffrey, Marianne Hundt, Christian Mair & Nicholas Smith. 2009. Change in contemporary English. A grammatical study. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Levin, Magnus & Jenny Ström Herold. 2021. On brackets in translation (or how to elaborate in brackets). In Čermáková, Anna, Signe Oksefjell Ebeling, Magnus Levin, & Jenny Ström Herold (eds.), Crossing the Borders: Analysing Complex Contrastive Data, Bergen Language and Linguistics Studies 11(1), 121–144.
Mair, Christian. 2006. Tracking ongoing grammatical change and recent diversification in Present-Day Standard English: The complementary role of small and large corpora. In Renouf, Antoinette & Andrew Kehoe (eds.), The changing face of corpus linguistics, 355–375. Amsterdam: Rodopi.
Rössler, Paul, Peter Besl & Anna Saller (eds.). 2021. Vergleichende Interpunktion – Comparative punctuation. Berlin: De Gruyter.
Ström Herold, Jenny & Magnus Levin. Forthcoming. From dashes to dashes? – a contrastive corpus study of dashes in English, German and Swedish. London: Bloomsbury.
Sun, Kun & Rong Wang. 2019. Frequency distributions of punctuation marks in English. Evidence from large-scale corpora. English Today 35(4), 23–35.
TT-språket. N.d. The style guide from the Swedish news agency Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå. https://tt-spraket.tt.se/skiljetecken/
(1) Die Literatur muss nicht gesellschaftskritisch sein – also ist sie verklärend. (ZEIT, 24.03.2017, Nr. 13)
(2) Ein Blick auf Libyen zeigt, dass die EU dazu – noch – nicht in der Lage ist. (ZEIT, 25.03.2017 (online))
(3) [...] das ist die Roseninsel? Und die Mauern – [next paragraph] (ZEIT, 27.07.2017, Nr. 12)
(4) "Wollen Sie was schicken?" – "Nein." (ZEIT Magazin, 07.12.2017, Nr. 51)
(1) contains a single dash amidst the graphematic sentence; in (2) a pair of dashes is located amidst the sentence; (3) holds a single dash within a graphematic sentence but at the end of it. In (4), the dash is used between two graphematic sentences.
Although there is consensus in research that these are all possible uses of the dash (cf. e.g. Baudusch 1981: 162; Bredel 2008: 78-80), it has not yet been extensively investigated whether and how often the four types actually occur in current standard written German. In his corpus for the 21st century (2012), Masalon (2014) finds only twelve instances that contain a dash. And an analysis by Baudusch (1981) dates back more than 40 years. Therefore, I analysed 200 random examples of the dash from the ZEIT (2017-2018). The single dash amidst the sentence is the most-used type (78.61 %), followed by the pair of dashes (15.61 %). I also asked for syntactic and text-linguistic and thus functional differences between the four types. These are some of the most important results:
The single dash amidst the graphematic sentence is often located between two syntactically independent clauses (1).
The pair of dashes mostly encloses units smaller than a clause that can often be syntactically integrated into the matrix construction and that are often even in a regular syntactic-topological position (2).
Concerning the function of the pair of dashes and the single dash amidst the sentence:
The dash generates or at least indicates a separate Informationseinheit and identifies it as equivalent to the rest of the sentence in terms of information-structural relevance.
It signals or strengthens the coherence between the separate units.
Expanding the study, I currently analyse a larger corpus (1000 instances) of national newspapers from 2021. I am also designing an experiment on the factors which lead to using the dash instead of alternative punctuation marks (e.g. the semicolon).
Baudusch, R. (1981): Einige Gedanken über den Gedankenstrich. In: Sprachpflege. Zeitschrift für gutes Deutsch in Schrift und Wort 30/11, pp. 161–164.
Bredel, U. (2008): Die Interpunktion des Deutschen. Ein kompositionelles System zur Online-Steuerung des Lesens. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
Masalon, K. (2014): Die deutsche Zeichensetzung gestern, heute – und morgen (?). Eine korpusbasierte, diachrone Untersuchung der Interpunktion als Teil schriftsprachlichen Wandels im Spannungsfeld von Textpragmatik, System und Norm unter besonderer Berücksichtigung des Kommas. Dissertation Duisburg-Essen.
One of the most elusive punctuation marks is the comma. Although the motivation for its use can be retraced to syntactic grounds in case of alphabetic languages, its actual application cannot be restricted to syntactic principles only. Research in the field has shown that the use of the comma is often irrespective of the hierarchy of clause constituents. Furthermore, even in cases of syntactic motivation, it is often the intention of the utterance itself that decides over the use of the comma. This paper aims to show that in Hungarian, the use of the comma is also associated with idiosyncratic semantic and prosodic variation both in cases of its syntactically unmotivated and motivated presence or omission.
The comma can be applied as an optional marker of discourse in sentence-words such as na or no (“come, now”), which serve as words of encouragement. It is not syntactic motivation that determines whether the comma is placed or omitted after na or no; rather, it signals the emphasis or pause the sentence-word itself or the clause following na or no may take, hence allowing syntactically similar constructions to adopt different facets of sense. What is more, in cases of syntactic motivation, the use of the comma shows further flexibility. Such flexibility manifests itself, for example, in relation to locutions like aszerint hogy (“according to [that]”), in which, again, the choice of emphasis determines whether the comma is placed in front of the pronominal reference aszerint, or before the conjunction hogy (“so that”). From this aspect of syntactic flexibility, it is also important to note that the use of the comma is optional in constructions with complements common to different verbs. Furthermore, the phenomenon of focus extraction as manifested in the Hungarian language does not necessitate a comma between the dislocated phrase and the following main clause, but it does require a comma before the conjunction (hogy) connecting the main clause and the remaining subclause. In this way, the dislocated phrase does not become a parenthetical clause, but is interwoven with the main clause. However, the use of the comma with the function word mint (“than” or “as”), discourse particles, and introductory words does not allow for such flexibility: it must be placed or omitted in line with strict syntactic and corresponding semantic rules.
The mentioned verbal tendencies and phenomena demonstrate that the use of the comma in Hungarian, the options and rules of its application are determined by the multiple facets of syntax, the prosody of emphasis, and the intended sense. Therefore, the use of the comma in Hungarian does not only allow for the articulation of speech, but also to determine nuances of sense both in a grammatically and a rhetorically versatile manner.
This work investigates the use of commas between subject, in the first position, and verb, in matrix and subordinate clauses, in texts written by Brazilian authors, born in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.
Data analysis revealed that the type of pre-verbal subject seems to affect the use or not of a comma.
In 17th and 18th century texts, the comma occurs more frequently after subjects with explanatory relative clauses, a context in which the marking of the comma would be expected, since explanatory relative clauses syntactic-semantically can be analyzed as parenthetical structures (Dahlet, 2006; Dehé & Kavalova, 2007; Rodrigues, 2020), and prosodically tend to form independent intonation phrases (Nespor & Vogel, 2007). Thus, the authors would tend to mark the comma because they interpret that there is a syntactic-semantic and an intonational boundary before and after the relative clause.
Yet, in the 19th-century texts, particularly in the Atas dos Brasileiros, the high incidence of commas after a simple subject stands out, as, in general, it is a context in which the authors tend not to insert the comma and, according to the grammatical norm, constitutes an “error”, for violating the argument structure of the clause, separating subject and verb. However, analyzing each data separately, the use of the comma does not seem random or wrong, and the comma seems to serve mainly to indicate that the subject is topical in nature. This led to the hypothesis that this tendency of the Atas writers would be a reflection of the emergence of the topic-type subject in Brazilian Portuguese in the 19th century. (Pontes 1987; Galves 1998)
Relying on semantic and syntactic evidence (Duarte, 1996; Duarte, 2018; Lambrecht, apud Araújo, 2006; Rizzi, apud Araújo, 2006), it is argued that the pre-verbal subjects of the Atas can be interpreted as topics and the sentences, be classified as left-shifted hanging topic constructions, without formal topic marking. This analysis explains the authors’ choice to mark the comma insofar that, as the pre-verbal phrase is a displaced topic with the function of subject, the comma would serve to graphically indicate prosodically the presence of a pause and, thus, the intonational boundary between topic and comment, and syntactically that the topicalized element is displaced from an internal position of the sentence.
ARAÚJO, E. A. As construções de tópico do português nos séculos XVIII e XIX: uma abordagem sintático-discursiva. (Tese de doutorado). Salvador: UFBA. 2006.
DAHLET, V. As (man)obras da pontuação:usos e significações. São Paulo: Associação Editorial Humanitas. 2006.
DEHÉ, N. & KAVALOVA, Y. “Parentheticals: An introduction”. In: Dehé, N. & Kavalova, Y. (Eds.) Parentheticals. Amsterdã/Filadélfia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. 2007.
DUARTE. M. E. L. “A perda do princípio “evite pronome” no português brasileiro”. In: Sínteses, v.1. Campinas: Unicamp. 1996.
DUARTE, M. E. “Do pronome nulo ao pronome pleno: a trajetória do sujeito no português do Brasil”. In: I. Roberts, & M. Kato (Orgs.) Português brasileiro: uma viagem diacrônica: homenagem a Fernando Tarallo. São Paulo: Contexto. 2018.
GALVES, C. "Tópicos, sujeitos, pronomes e concordância no português brasileiro." In: Cadernos de Estudos linguísticos 34. Campinas: Unicamp. 1998.
NESPOR, M., & VOGEL, I. Prosodic Phonology: With a new foreword. Berlim/Nova York: Mouton de Gruyter. 2007.
PONTES, E. O tópico do português do Brasil. Campinas: Editora Pontes. 1987.
RODRIGUES, A. de A. Funções da pontuação em construções relativas no português clássico : usos e normas. (Dissertação de mestrado) São José do Rio Preto: UNESP. 2020.
According to the official orthography rules of Danish, cf. Retskrivningsordbogen, it is optional to place a comma before subclauses. Placing the comma before subclauses gives rise to some difficulties, however. Here, we deal with one of these difficulties.
There are some exceptions to the principal rule that a comma is placed before a subclause. One of these exceptions is that if an adverbial introduces the subclause, and this adverbial is “closely connected” to the subclause, the comma is placed before the adverbial:
Han blev hjemme, lige efter at han havde fået en kat. he stayed at.home right after that.CONJ he had got a cat ‘He stayed at home right after he had got a cat.’
If the adverbial is not closely connected to the subclause, the comma is placed before the subclause:
Han kunne ikke gå lige, efterat han havde fået øl. he could not walk straight after that.CONJ he had got beer ‘He couldn’t walk straight after drinking beer.’
Examples like (3) are problematic, however. They involve a copula and an adverbial which is closely connected to the subclause:
Det er mange år efter at svaler-ne har fløjet så lavt. it is many years after that.CONJ swallows-the have flown so low ‘It’s many years after the swallows have been flying so low.’
Retskrivningsordbogen seems to give the following examples as to where the comma should be placed in (3) – either before the subclause, as in (4), or before the adverbial, as in (5):
Det er længe siden, svaler-ne har fløjet så lavt. it is long since swallows-the have flown so low ‘It’s a long time ago since the swallows have been flying so low.’
Bøger-ne blev nedsat, en måned efter at vi havde betalt books-the were marked.down one month after that.CONJ we had paid fuld pris for dem. ‘The books were marked down one month after we had paid the full price for them.’
However, this does not solve the comma issue in (3). We show that (3) is in fact ambiguous between two different constructions: (i) a cleft and (ii) an impersonal construction in which the copula is akin to the verb ske ‘happen’. In the former case, the comma should be placed before the subclause; in the latter case, it should be placed before the adverbial. Based on this, we propose reformulating the punctuation rules.
Retskrivningsordbogen. 2012. roplus.dk.
The colon structure as described by Bredel (2008) consists of a host construction and an expansion, separated by a colon. This expansion elaborates on an antecedent in the host, as described by Nunberg 1990. The antecedent remains undefined, however, “leaving to the semantics the job of determining which element of the preceding clause it [the expansion] is associated with” (Nunberg 1990:28). Nunberg compares the colon-expansion to extraposed relative clauses, while in other contexts the colon has been connected to a varying range of constructions, including appositions and headers (Patt 2013, Halliday & Matthiessen 2014, Dahl 2015).
I will present results from an ongoing dissertation project exploring the use of the colon in a corpus of Swedish newspaper articles, focusing the syntactic and semantico-pragmatic relationship between antecedent and expansion (cf. Renkema 2009, Halliday & Matthiessen 2014). The antecedent is understood as providing the syntactically segregated expansion with a syntactic interpretation in the host clause, while the expansion gives the antecedent a more specific semantic interpretation. The relationship between antecedents and expansions can typically be considered predicative, but there are also demonstrative connections (cf. Bredel 2008) as well as adverbial, circumstantial, ones. Most notably, antecedent and expansion alike tend to carry informational focus—with the focus of the antecedent becoming the implicit topic of the predication in the expansion, which typically contains only one phrase (Katourgi 2022). The theoretical and empirical observations help shed new light on the colon structure, and by extension other structures involving clause peripheral constructions, in Swedish and other languages.
Bredel, U (2008). Die Interpunktion des Deutschen. Niemeyer.
Dahl, A (2015). I skriftens gränstrakter. Uppsala University.
Halliday, M & Matthiessen, C (2014). Introduction to Functional Grammar, 4th ed. Routledge.
Katourgi, A (2022). Kolon: Ett informationsstrukturerande skiljetecken. In: Språk & stil 31:2.
Nunberg, G (1990). The Linguistics of Punctuation. CSLI.
Patt, S (2013). Punctuation as a Means of Medium-Dependent Presentation Structure in English. Narr.
Renkema, J (2009). The Texture of Discourse. John Benjamins.
Section B: Punctuation principles
Punctuation in European linguistic cultures is based on ancient foundations (Parkes 1993), with the concept of the rhetorical period playing a particularly important role (Rinas 2017). In the German-speaking world, however, punctuation became more closely tied to grammatical-syntactical concepts in the 18th and 19th centuries (Rinas 2017, 2021). This also affected Czech linguistic culture. Since the late 18th century, there were efforts to establish Czech as a written language, which led to intense discussions about codification (Bermel 2007). In this context, approaches of German grammatography were also reflected, for example contributions by Felbiger and Adelung, and later by syntax theorists such as Becker or Herling (cf. Jelínek 1972, Keipert 1991, Šlosar et al. 2009). This strong connection to the German tradition also manifested itself in punctuation theory. Until the middle of the 19th century, Czech punctuation theory was strongly indebted to German approaches. In the second half of the 19th century, however, it emancipated itself to a certain extent by also turning to specifically Czech constructions that have no direct equivalent in German (Rinas/Koupil/Tichák (Ms.), cf. also Rinas/Tichák 2020).
The aim of this presentation is to describe this process in more detail and to situate it in the context of more general transfer processes in European cultures.
Bermel, N. (2007) Linguistic authority, language ideology, and metaphor: the Czech orthography wars. Berlin/New York.
Jelínek, J. (1972) Nástin dějin vyučování českému jazyku v letech 1774-1918. Praha.
Keipert, H. (1991) „Die ‚Wiener Anleitung’ in der slavischen Grammatikographie des ausgehenden 18. Jahrhunderts“. In: Zeitschrift für slavische Philologie 51 (1991), pp. 23-59.
Parkes, M.B. (1993) Pause and Effect. Berkeley.
Rinas, K. (2017) Theorie der Punkte und Striche. Die Geschichte der deutschen Interpunktionslehre. Heidelberg.
Rinas, K. (2021) „Vom genormten Satzbau zur genormten Interpunktion“. In: Rössler, P., P. Besl & A. Saller (eds.) Vergleichende Interpunktion – Comparative Punctuation. Berlin/Boston, pp. 109-134.
Rinas, K. & V. Tichák (2020) Die Interpunktion im Deutschen und Tschechischen. Olomouc.
Rinas, K., O. Koupil & V. Tichák (Ms.) Česká interpunkce v evropských dějinách. [to appear]
Šlosar, D. et al. (2009) Spisovný jazyk v dějinách české společnosti. Brno.
Latin grammarians theorised Latin punctuation in the particular graphic context of scriptio continua (continuous writing) between the 3rd and 5th centuries. These theories are based on the need to prepare a written text for oral performance, but also consider the graphic aspects of writing, so that Latin punctuation is based on a double imperative: to provide pauses in order for the speaker to breathe and to produce divisions of the text that respects the syntactic and semantic linguistic levels.
The early Middle Ages’ scribes and grammarians, who received this theoretical heritage from the Late Antique grammarians (mainly through the grammar of Donatus), conformed to traditional practice although the context of writing evolved. The aim of this paper will be to show how early medieval grammarians were able to adapt their legacy to the specific needs of their time, especially when medieval masters developed new practices for morpho-syntactic marking (syntactical marks) which they applied at the same time as they corrected the punctuation on manuscripts copied earlier.
This paper focuses on the use of syllabic punctuation in the Etruscan and Venetic writing systems, attested in the Italian peninsula during the first millennium BC. Specifically, it aims on the one hand to describe the functioning of such a punctuation system as well as the teaching practices which underlie it. On the other hand, it aims to show that similar teaching practices are also found within other ancient and modern writing traditions, both alphabetic and non-alphabetic.
Etruscan inscriptions are written with an alphabet deriving from a western Greek model. Some Etruscan inscriptions from southern Etruria and Campania dating from the end of the 7th century BC to the middle of the 5th century BC show syllabic punctuation, that is to say basically the use of one or more dots to signal vowels and consonants which do not fit the CV syllabic structure (see, for example, mine muluvene a.vile a.c.vil.nas.̀ ‘Avile Acvinals gave me’, where dots are placed after all letters which do not fit the aforementioned structure). From the end of the 6th century BC onwards, syllabic punctuation is introduced in the Venetic writing system, which is based on an Etruscan model. The use of syllabic punctuation in Venetic inscriptions is very extensive, since it becomes an actual ethnic marker.
The finding of ancient votive copies of Venetic writing tablets has shed light on the teaching practices which underlies syllabic punctuation. Specifically, syllabic punctuation depends on a syllable-based literacy training which starts with syllables of the CV type and then moves on to more complex syllables (CCV, CVC, etc.). Such a training finds a parallel in other ancient and modern writing traditions, as shown by direct and indirect evidence. This is the case, for example, of the so-called syllabic method in modern and contemporary Western.
In light of the above, the paper will contribute to drawing an overall typological picture of punctuation through the description of a unique and relatively little-known punctuation device. Furthermore, it will contribute to examining the relationship between different writing and punctuation systems and literacy training.
V. Brugnatelli, Tifinaɣ e alfabeto etrusco-venetico. A proposito della concezione alfabetica della scrittura, in P. Filigheddu (ed.), Circolazioni culturali nel Mediterraneo antico, Cagliari, 1994, pp. 47- 53.
A.-M. Chartier, Writing Systems and Literacy Methods: Schooling Models in western Curricula from the Seventeen to the twentieth Century, in «Sisyphus» 4, 1, 2016, pp. 67-97.
R. Cribiore, Writing, teachers, and students in Greco-Roman Egypt, New York, 1996.
D. F. Maras, Etruscan and Italic Literacy and the Case of Rome, in W. M. Bloomer (ed.), A Companion to Ancient Education, Malden – Oxford – Chichester, 2015, pp. 201-225.
A. Marinetti, P. Solinas, Conservazione e innovazione fra ottimizzazione e ideologia nelle tradizioni alfabetiche derivate dall’etrusco, in P. Cotticelli-Kurras, A. Rizza (eds.), Variation within and among Writing Systems, Wiesbaden, 2016, pp. 181-201.
K. McDonald, Education and Literacy in Ancient Italy: Evidence from the Dedications to the Goddess Reitia, in «The Journal of Roman Studies» 109, 2019, pp. 131-159.
M. Pandolfini, A. L. Prosdocimi, Alfabetari e insegnamento della scrittura nell’Italia antica, Firenze, 1990.
D. Poli, L’insegnamento di scuola nella formazione delle scritture dell’ogam e delle rune, in M. Mancini, B. Turchetta (eds.), Scrittura e scritture, Roma, 2009, pp. 1-84.
The spelling phenomenon of so called syllabic punctuation is found in some of the pre-Roman alphabets of Italy: beside ca. 60 Etruscan texts from the 6th and 5th c. BC, mainly from Veii, syllabic punctuation is most prominently used in Venetic writing (late 6th–1st c. BC). Letters for sounds which do not form part of a CV syllable are marked by two dots or strokes before and after the letter; certain consonant clusters qualify as simple onsets and are not punctuated. This system is thought to be connected with writing instruction, a theory which is mainly supported by the Este writing tablets – votive bronze imitations of learner’s writing tablets from a Venetic sanctuary, on which syllabic structures (consonant alphabets, vowel rows, complex syllable rows) feature prominently. It has been suggested that the presence of syllabic punctuation in Venetic writing shows that the Venetians received the alphabet from the Etruscans of Veii. While this is plausible, it must be considered that different styles of punctuation, which follow the same rationale in principle but deviate in the placement and shape of puncts and detailed rules, are also found in Etruscan inscriptions outside of Veii, in Venetic inscriptions outside the major centres with their highly standardised alphabet variants, and in Raetic inscriptions from certain find places where Venetic-based alphabet variants are used. In addition, we find cases of word-internal puncts which are not word separators, but which also do not agree with the rules of syllabic punctuation, in the Raetic petrographs of the Northern Limestone Alps as well as in Celtic coin legends from the Rhône valley written in the Lepontic alphabet.
The talk will give an overview of the use of syllabic punctuation in the Etruscan and the North Italic alphabets, and discuss three main points:
Theories concerning the origin of syllabic punctuation: influence from syllabic scripts?
Lines of borrowing: can we distinguish separate traditions of syllabic punctuation across alphabets?
Function of syllabic punctuation in writing: can the use of syllabic punctuation outside of its school context be explained as a prestige effect, with correctly used syllabic punctuation being used to signal a formal education and social status? Can this account for all cases of non-standard use of syllabic punctuation as inexpert imitations of a prestige spelling technique?
Information Structure (as defined in Systemic Functional Linguistics) divides the stream of language into comprehensible units. In spoken English, this is realised by the tone unit with the tonic foot – the most audibly salient point – realising the function of New information (Halliday and Greaves, 2008). New information indicates “newsworthiness” (the importance the speaker places on the item), independently of its referential status, and is distinguished from other systems in the textual metafunction, particularly Participant Tracking and Theme (Martin, 1992). Comparing the textual metafunction across written and spoken modes in English requires us either to consider why written English text is not marked for intonation or to ask how Information Structure has evolved with a different realisation in the written mode.
Punctuation in written English has its origins in guidance for speaking the text aloud, but has evolved with the advance of silent reading and the attendant explosion in literacy (Saenger, 1997). Spaces between words and punctuation marks provide cues for the saccading eye to scan and pause creating non-arbitrary units of information in written text that parallel the function but not the extent of spoken information units. In this approach, New information in written English is realised by the pause on a Culmination point prior to a punctuation mark – the most visually salient point (Moore, 2016).
This presentation explores some of the linguistic, historical and psychological evidence for the hypothesis that Information Structure is a function that remains constant across written and spoken modes of English, while its realisation in punctuation and intonation, respectively, is realised in a non-arbitrary relationship due to the affordances of visual and aural media.
Halliday, M. & Greaves, W. (2008) Intonation in the Grammar of English. Equinox.
Moore, N. (2016) What's the point? The Role of Punctuation in Realising Information Structure in Written English. Functional Linguistics 3/6, pp.1-23 DOI: 10.1186/s40554-016-0029-x.
Saenger, P. (1997) Spaces Between Words. Stanford.
Martin. J. (1992) English Text. John Benjamins.
The role of vowelizations (punctuation marks) in the process of word recognition and reading in Arabic is a matter of debate. The results of three different studies regarding the role of vowelzation on the process of reading Arabic words will be presented. In the first experiment, 143 typical and 146 poor native Arab readers (2nd, 4th and 6th grades) were tested by reading two lists of full vowelized and non-vowelized words. The results indicate that among the typical group of readers, the non-vowelized words were read more accurately than the vowelized words. For the group of poor readers, such significant differences were found within the older reader groups only (The 4th and 6th grades). The differences in the speed of reading the vowelized words and non-vowelized ones were significantly found within the older groups only within both groups of readers.
In the second experiment, forty-one native Arab skilled readers with age average of 30.66 ±9.09 performed a lexical decision task (hereafter: LDT) using three types of words and pseudowords: full, partial and non-vowelized. The results showed that for both words and pseudowords, response times were shorter and accuracy levels were higher for the non-vowelized condition compared to the other conditions of vowelization.
The last experiment explored the visual recognition of verbs with transparent pattens among twenty typical (age 15.97 ±.29) compared to twenty poor native Arab readers (age 16.08 ±.28). The stimuli were from two types of vowelization, full vowelized and non-vowelized. The participants performed a LDT while RTs and accuracies were recorded. The results indicated that for the typical group of readers, higher accuracy levels and shorter response times were recorded in processing non-vowelized verbs as compared to vowelized verbs. This type of results was not shown significantly among the poor group.
In light of the results, it might be assumed that vowelization in Arabic for skilled readers could cause a visual load during the process of the visual recognition of words and may be considered as "redundant information".
Marking up texts with comments, additions, references, or visual markers is a century-old practice. Notes in the margins of manuscripts and early prints established not only a personal dialogue with the text but also a rich conversation among readers over time. Annotations function as memory devices, open up deeper analysis, or provide broader contextualization. Digital markup schemas such as TEI (Text Encoding Initiative) broaden the spectrum for further analysis in the realm of digital humanities. Machine learning approaches to text analysis – and now Generative AI –are able to automate the markup of texts, provided they are trained on relevant corpora. However, punctuation marks have often been the first elements to be eliminated when training language models. This talk will discuss annotations in light of analog and digital methods and offer suggestions for integrating punctuation research into automated and manual text analysis.
Section C: Extralinguistic influence on punctuation use
Presentation of a preliminary project: Standard accounts of the punctuation system employed in modern written Chinese characterize it as a “new-style punctuation” created through a judicious wedding of Western punctuation with marks and usages inherited from indigenous “old-style” punctuation systems, and trace its history from the debates and experiments of progressive intellectuals in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to the standard guidelines promulgated by governmental bodies through the present day. The present study seeks to add nuance and complexity to this accepted narrative through a diachronic study of punctuation practice in one of the most consequential arenas for the presentation of written text in early twentieth-century China: the periodical press. For the purposes of an initial case study, it focuses on the magazine The Oriental Miscellany (Dongfang zazhi 東方雜誌). The Oriental Miscellany was a general-interest periodical targeting the educated urban public, produced by China’s most prominent commercial publisher, Shanghai’s Commercial Press 商務印書館, between 1904 and 1948 (with several interruptions; later revived on Taiwan). The length of the magazine’s run and its position in the cultural mainstream make it an excellent resource for addressing questions on the history of Chinese punctuation that shift the focus from policies and standards to implementation and adoption at the point “where the rubber meets the road.” These questions include the range and variety of punctuation strategies available in early twentieth-century China; the porous boundaries between different punctuation regimes; the role of material and technological considerations in the adoption of new graphic and textual strategies; the relative influence of authorial practice and editorial agendas; and the affective and discursive valence of different punctuation practices, including the influence of genre on punctuation choices and (conversely) the role of punctuation in articulating textual genre. By using The Oriental Miscellany to open these questions for consideration, this study aims to establish groundwork and clarify directions for continuing research.
This paper addresses the ambiguous position of Western-style punctuation in the vernacular poetic movements in early twentieth century China. Facing unprecedented cultural crises, Chinese intellectuals imported industrial printing and papermaking technologies from Japan and the West. That process subjected local textual cultures to foreign punctuation systems. For promoters of the New Culture Movement of the 1910s, punctuation marks denoted ideals of modernity, affording clarity to the allegedly unreadable Chinese text. Revolutionary poets thus wielded Western-style punctuation to disrupt ossified conventions of traditional prosody, and to capture the lived voices of the underclass hitherto repressed by conventional Chinese poetry. While these punctuation marks initially encoded yearnings for revolution, the ensuing generation of Chinese New Poets regarded unpunctuated poetry as more akin to their modernist visions. In offering close analysis of a series of Chinese poems written in the 1920s, my paper shows how poets negotiated with legacies of colonial modernity and scars of social conflict through their idiosyncratic use of punctuation marks. My aim is to demonstrate that attention to punctuation can not only enable finer-grained literary analysis, but can also deepen our understanding of the politics of poetic language in transcultural and translingual contexts.
Section D: Intralinguistic influence on punctuation use
The use of punctuation marks in German minority varieties can be considered basically unexplored, as is the entire graphematics of non-European varieties of German (cf. Lindenfelser 2021, subm.). As a rule, so-called language island dialects are treated as purely oral varieties (cf. e.g. Eichinger 1997: 171: “Linguistically, the insular dialect is most clearly characterized by a spoken variety of immediacy ...”), consequently their written form is not the subject of investigation. Even standard (everyday German) written testimonies such as emigrant letters (cf. e.g. Elspaß 2005) have not been studied with regard to their punctuation. In our talk, we present a corpus-based analysis of the use of punctuation marks in private letter and diary testimonies of German emigrants and their descendants in Argentina and Brazil, written between 1850 and 1950 (Prediger/Lindenfelser/Szczepaniak in print). In addition, we analyze the currently collected written translations of Spanish stimulus sentences by about 50 speakers of a German variety in Argentina. The latter data contrast higher literate speakers of a (Argentine) standard variety of German in and around the capital Buenos Aires with less literate speakers of Volga German in Argentina around the city of Coronel Suárez (Buenos Aires province). We investigate whether this sociolinguistic contrast is also reflected in the (non-) use of punctuation marks. We then relate the punctuation of the spontaneously produced translation sentences to the punctuation in the letter and diary testimonies studied and discuss possible explanations for the findings.
Eichinger, Ludwig M. (1997): Deutsch in weiter Ferne. Die Verbreitung der deutschen Sprache außerhalb des zusammenhängenden deutschen Sprachgebiets: Deutsche Minderheiten. In: Stickel, Gerhard (Hg.): Varietäten des Deutschen. Regional- und Umgangssprachen. Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 155–181.
Elspaß, Stephan (2005): Sprachgeschichte von unten. Untersuchungen zum geschriebenen Alltagsdeutsch im 19. Jahrhundert. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
Lindenfelser, Siegwalt (2021): Schriftsysteme in Kontakt: Eine Studie zu spontan verschriftetem Unserdeutsch. Sprachwissenschaft 46(1), 71–109.
Lindenfelser, Siegwalt (subm.): „Wolle Ameise Pisye Hunsrik Xraywe?“ – Alltagsverschriftung des Riograndenser Hunsrückisch im Sprachkontakt.
Prediger, Angélica / Lindenfelser, Siegwalt / Szczepaniak, Renata (in print): Deutsch in Argentinien. Gebrauch, Struktur, Varietäten, Identitäten, Ideologien. Aufbau eines multimodalen Korpus: Methoden und Auswertungsperspektiven. In: Hans-Bianchi, Barbara / Vogt, Barbara Maria (eds.): Deutsch in Kontakt. Neue empirische Studien zu Kontaktphänomenen und -szenarien in der Gegenwart. Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter.
Section E: Concrete punctuation marks in several languages
In this paper I will show the fruitfulness of a diachronic, textual and syntactic approach to French punctuation. In the 16th century, a turning point in the history of books and language in France, a punctuation system, albeit unstable, was established in printed books (Catach 1977; Llamas-Pombo 2020a). Meanwhile, French language is undergoing profound transformations (Combettes and Marchello-Nizia 2010): the continuous discourse characteristic of Middle French persists, but is rivalled by other phrasal patterns (Mounier 2022) in which I will demonstrate that ‘media distinctio’ – in the diversity of its forms : colon, semi-colon, comma followed by a capital letter, interpunct – plays an important role, due to its intermediary status which allows the structuring of complex sentences.
Digital humanities and corpus linguistics offer valuable tools for the implementation of a specific method in the analysis of punctuation. Through a mainly quantitative analysis of a French corpus composed of narrative texts (chivalric romance and travel literature), covering a period from 1544 to 1637, I will highlight generic tendencies in the marking of the ‘media distinctio’. My method is based on two main elements:
Adding a layer of analysis by annotating the ‘punctuatable borders’ (Lavrentiev 2009). I annotate all the places where, according to empirical criteria (structural, syntactic, enunciative, etc.), a punctuation mark could have been used. This annotation enables to evaluate the stability of the punctuation system, to quantify its diachronic evolution, and to finely characterise the functions of punctuation marks.
Using the contrastive tools offered by textometry, especially correspondence analysis and specificity scores (Pincemin, Guillot-Barbance, et Lavrentiev 2018). Thus, I will dissociate diachronic and generic trends in the evolution of French punctuation, and show the particular role played by the intermediate level of punctuation.
Although my study is based only on Pre-Classical French, the methodological perspective I propose for the study of punctuation is intended to be applicable to other periods, genre of discourse or languages and could even facilitate comparisons between the punctuation systems of different languages of the world (Parkes 1992; Mortara-Garavelli 2008; Llamas- Pombo 2020b).
CATACH, Nina. 1977. « La ponctuation dans les imprimés, des débuts de l’imprimerie à G. Tory et E. Dolet ». In La Ponctuation. Recherches historiques et actuelles, 29‐57. Paris / Besançon: CNRS-GTM-HESO.
COMBETTES, Bernard, et Christiane MARCHELLO-NIZIA. 2010. «La périodisation en linguistique historique : le cas du français préclassique ». In Le changement en français. Études de linguistique diachronique, 129‐41. Berne: Peter Lang.
LAVRENTIEV, Alexei. 2009. « Tendances de la ponctuation dans les manuscrits et incunables français en prose, du XIIIe siècle au XVe siècle ». Thèse de doctorat en Sciences du Langage sous la direction de Christiane Marchello-Nizia, Lyon: École normale supérieure Lettres et Sciences humaines.
LLAMAS-POMBO, Elena. 2020a. « Partie 4. Codes de l’écrit : Graphies et ponctuation. Chapitre 28. Ponctuation ». In Grande Grammaire Historique du Français, 592‐614. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter Mouton.
———. 2020b. « Punctuation in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-century French and Spanish Grammars ». In Advances in Historical Orthography, c. 1500-1800, par Marco Condorelli, 93‐123. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
MORTARA-GARAVELLI, Bice, éd. 2008. Storia della punteggiatura in Europa. Enciclopedie del sapere. Rome: Editori Laterza.
MOUNIER, Pascale. 2022. « La phrase dans le roman de chevalerie entre 1530 et 1550 ». Le Français préclassique, no 24: 97‐123.
PARKES, Malcolm Beckwith. 1992. Pause and Effect. An Introduction to the History of Punctuation in the West. Aldershot: Scolar Press.
PINCEMIN, Bénédicte, Céline GUILLOT-BARBANCE, et Alexei LAVRENTIEV. 2018. « Using the First Axis of a Correspondence Analysis as an Analytical Tool: Application to Establish and Define an Orality Gradient for Genres of Medieval French Texts ». In Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on the Statistical Analysis of Textual Data, 594. Sapienza University, Rome.
Shell nouns are abstract nouns which, when entering the right syntactic constructions (1-3), will “encapsulate” (Francis 1994) “propositional-like pieces of information” (Schmid 2000):
(1) The problem is that I have no money. (adapted from Schmid 2000)
(2) I have no money. This problem… (adapted from Schmid 2018)
(3) The problem: I have no money. (adapted from Schmid 2018)
As seen in the paratactic construction (3), punctuation can, like the copula in (1), allow a shell noun to function as such. But other forms of punctuation exist, such as quotation marks (4):
(4) Aux côtés de son mari, sur le plateau de CBS This Morning, elle a accusé la campagne Obama de n’avoir qu’un objectif « tuer Mitch ». ENG.: Alongside her husband on the set of CBS This morning, she accused the Obama campaign of having only one goal “killing Mitch”.
Indeed, in (4) above, not only do the quotation marks serve as a direct speech marker, but also as an encapsulation device, since they replace the more canonical paratactic colon:
(4’) elle a accusé la campagne Obama de n’avoir qu’un objectif : tuer Mitch. ENG.: she accused the Obama campaign of having only one goal: killing Mitch.
However not all cases of a shell noun followed by quotation marks reflect an encapsulation. Sometimes the noun is merely followed by an identificational adnominal complement (5), which would take the form of a pre-nominal modifier in English:
(5) Aplicarea principiului „cunoaște-ti clientul” începe chiar de la inițierea relației [...] ENG.: The “know your client” principle starts from the moment you meet the client […]
Based on a data from the French and Romanian TenTen corpora, we established a typology of the (non-)encapsulating uses of the (Det.) shell noun “verbal constituent” structure. To do so, we first identified the most frequent shell nouns in a home-made, genre-diversified corpus. Next, a CQL request corresponding to the target structures, where the nominal slot is filled by our previously-identified nouns, allowed the identification of several syntactic and semantic properties of the paratactic (Det.) shell noun “verbal constituent”. The most striking feature is that, after the encapsulated content, no constituents linked to the shell noun are allowed, which translates into a sentence-final position. This also means that, when pronounced out loud, this construction has a specific prosody, identified by Apotheloz (2013) in pseudo-clefts sentences (What is important is X). This shows its closeness to its “sister” construction, the more canonical construction with the colon in (3) above. Furthermore, the shell nouns which enter this construction are mostly the so-called “boulomaic” nouns (i.e. goal or wish; Legallois & Vajnovszki 2021) as well as some deontic ones (i.e. motto, mission). Finally, the uniqueness of the nominal lexeme in this construction is often reinforced by the addition of restrictive mechanisms (e.g. the restrictive negation ne… que) and/or adjectives (e.g. seul, unique).
Apothéloz, D. (2013). « Pseudo-clivées et constructions apparentées. » In: Grammaire de la période. Berne: Peter Lang.
Francis, G. (1994). « Labelling discourse: an aspect of nominal-group lexical cohesion ». In: Coulthard, M. (ed.). Advances in written text analysis. London: Routledge, 83-101.
Legallois, D. & Vajnovszki, A. (2021). « Proposition pour une conception modale des noms dits sous-spécifiés ». CORELA - COgnition, REprésentation, LAngage, HS-34 (online).
Schmid, H.-J. (2000). English Abstract Nouns As Conceptual Shells: From Corpus to Cognition. Berlin: Mouton De Gruyter.
Schmid, H.-J. (2018). « Shell nouns in English – a personal roundup ». Caplletra 64, 109-128.
This paper investigates the function of parentheses in English and Korean. We examine the ways in which parentheses and the information they hold are processed by readers, and potential differences in use given the different writing systems (Latin script and Hangul). The study of parentheticals in English has largely centered on their use as appositives, speaker-oriented adverbials, and expressives, while very little has been studied about them in Korean. Strikingly, few instances of studied parentheticals actually include use of parentheses; most examples are non-parenthesized parentheticals. Here we specifically explore constructions like (1):
(1) Sarah studies linguistics for (intellectual) profit. (Lewen & Anderson, 2022)
Parenthesized parentheticals give rise to a number of interesting behaviors. In particular, in the construction above, the parentheses invoke and negate a set of alternatives to the parenthesized content. Crucially, however, the non-parenthesized counterpart to (1) does give rise to alternatives (e.g., financial profit), none of which are necessarily negated. Lewen & Anderson propose such an analysis, positing that the parentheses function as a focus-sensitive operator. They introduce the notion of a restricted parenthesized parenthetical (2022). We now consider whether the same notion and similar findings are observed in Korean, a language with a different writing system and conventions on the use of parentheses. (2) presents the example in (1) in Korean.
(2) Sarah-는 (지적) 이익-을 위해 언어학-을 공부합-니-다. sarah-TOP (intellectual) gain-ACC for linguistics-ACC study.HON-IND-DECL
Based on pilot data, we find that Korean readers parse the parenthesized parenthetical as a non-exhaustive example of the kind of gain that does not exclude other kinds of gain. The non-parenthesized counterpart of (2) in Korean, unlike in English, does not enable an interpretation where other types of profit are compatible. There is the additional option to place the parenthetical to the right of the modified noun (3), which then functions to place emphasis on the parenthetical.
(3) Sarah-는 이익-을 (지적) 위해 언어학-을 공부합-니-다. sarah-TOP gain-ACC (intellectual) for linguistics-ACC study.HON-IND-DECL
The interpretation in (3) is that Sarah hopes to acquire some gains in studying linguistics, especially, or in particular, intellectual gain. With ongoing data collection involving psycholinguistic behavioral data from native English and native Korean speakers, our aim is to elucidate the differences in processing of parentheticals and posit a cross-linguistically attested, unified account.
Kaltenböck, G. (2007). Spoken parenthetical clauses in English. In N. Dehé and Y. Kavalova (Eds.), Parentheticals (pp. 25–52). Amsterdam: Benjamins.
Lewen, C. B. & Anderson, C. J. (2022). (Some) parentheses are focus-sensitive operators. In D. Gutzmann & S. Repp (Eds.), Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 22 (pp. 165–186). University of Cologne.
Section F: Pragmatic use of punctuation marks
The aim of this presentation is to analyze the use of punctuation and typography in sarcastic tweets based on a collection of 21000 tweets covering 21 Arab countries .
Although initially created and used as graphic representations of pauses and intonation, punctuation marks are now considered as symbols used in formal writing for grammatical purposes to divide writing into sentences and clauses, for logical purposes to logically bridge words and sentences in order to create a coherent text, and for semantic purposes in some types of text (exclamation point to connote surprise or admiration, ellipsis to connote hesitation, etc.). With the emergence of new ways of written communication through social media, some punctuation marks are now used in informal writing for different purposes.
Social media introduced a new written Arabic register; most social media posts in Arabic are written in Arabic dialect, which was strictly used in oral communication prior social media. Written Arabic dialect is a recent form of Arabic written discourse used in Computer Mediated Communication, especially social media, as a form of “informal writing”. This shows the need of research stating the differences between Modern Standard Arabic and Arabic dialects; in which contexts each language register is used on social media, and the influence Modern Standard Arabic has on written Arabic dialect.
My research proposal is to study the use and functions of punctuation marks in written Arabic dialect on twitter. Since linguistic analysis of social media posts and tweets are of interest, especially in regards of detecting the (emotionally) positive, negative or neutral nature of those posts as a reaction to a current event, I suggest analyzing the ways punctuation and other typographic marks are used in Arabic tweets to communicate sarcasm. Since it is closer to oral speech patterns, the analysis of punctuation in written Arabic dialect would focus on
Since the standard rules of punctuation were added to Modern Standard Arabic, the pausal and communicative impact of punctuation marks in addition to the grammatical structure of sentences suggest the following to analyze the standard use of punctuation in written Arabic dialects:
Linguistic analysis of sarcastic expressions in spoken Arabic and how they are produced in tweets;
Searching for punctuation marks in sarcastic tweets and comparing them with the punctuation of neutral tweets;
analyzing to what degree each punctuation mark participates in adding a sarcastic twist and whether removing punctuation would make the tweet less sarcastic;
using our findings to describe the standard use and functions of punctuation in written Arabic dialect and to analyze how people punctuate their sarcastic tweets.
This paper proposal constitutes an original research that will help in enhancing research on detecting sarcasm and negative speech on social media as well as linguistic analysis of Arabic dialects in written discourse.
 The collection of tweets is from the corpus DAICT: A Dialectal Arabic Irony Corpus Extracted from Twitter (Abbes; Zaghouani; el-Hardlo; Ashour, 2020). URL: https://www.aclweb.org/anthology/2020.lrec-1.768.pdf.
In digital communication, periods and commas are often replaced by emoticons or emojis as a new way of punctuation. In this study, I examine the differences between a 4-year-long (2018-2022) German group chat of primary school parents and a Japanese counterpart during the same period. Both school classes have a similar group size and the discussed topics are homogeneous. Consequently, the chats are very appropriate for comparison.
In order to observe and describe the language change that is currently taking place in both languages, the analysis will examine the following questions: How many punctuation marks are replaced by emoticons or emojis? Which sentences tend to end without a period? If a period is replaced by an emoticon/emoji, what kind of emoticon/emoji is used? Are there gender differences between the chat participants? What kind of cultural differences can be recognized? Are cultural differences more relevant than individual ones? Can personal preferences be identified as individual styles?
German and Japanese have very different language cultures and different developments in the history of language policy, especially with regard to punctuation. In this respect, significant differences can be expected when comparing the use of punctuation in digital chat groups, even though one might assume that language change due to digitalization has similar characteristics all over the world. For this reason, a cross-cultural comparison is relevant to the study of punctuation change.
In this contribution, we explore "Pragmatics of punctuation", a field of the study of writing systems based on the analogy between the functions of discourse markers and the functions of punctuation marks. Our research explores punctuation as a system of "decoding instructions" from the perspective of the reader. We aim to establish a typology of "pragmatic invariants" or "reading instructions" implemented by different graphical marks across languages and across the evolution of orthographies. The notions of "connection", "omission", "alternative", "repetition" or "enunciative change" can be used to conceptualize some of these pragmatic invariants (Llamas-Pombo 2016, 2020). A diachronic comparison of empirical data from French and Spanish languages will illustrate this typology, which could be applied to different writing systems of punctuation marks.
Gotti & Maci (2011).
Smith & Kay (2011).
In typologies of sentence mood, exclamatives and interrogatives are classified as distinct types (cf. Searle 1976, Zaefferer 2001, and Gärtner ms); from a cognitive point of view, interrogatives are assigned to knowledge, while exclamatives are assigned to emotion (Croft 1994: 470). For German, the use of multiple and combined question marks and exclamation marks calls this clear-cut distinction into question (1–3).
(1) Stimmt es das man einen Ficus nicht ins Schlafzimmer stellen sollte???? Angeblich leicht giftige Dämpfe?!?!?!?
Is it true that you should not put a ficus in the bedroomPUNC Allegedly slightly toxic fumesPUNC
(2) Was sagt ihr dazu?!? Warum ist die Seite überhaupt gesperrt????
What do you guys say about thisPUNC Why is the site blocked in the first placePUNC
(3) unter der suche nach "aphex" oder "twin" gibt die Suchmaschine hier garnichts!!!!! ?!?
for "aphex" or "twin", the search engine displays nothingPUNC
What is more, combined question and exclamation marks are not only employed to serve the function of marking “special” sentence mood. As an extension of this function, they are employed for marking discourse particles; cp. the German youth language discourse particle Hallo “hello” in (4), where punctuation serves as a word and syntax marker.
(4) Stattdessen soll nach dem Willen der Atomkonzerne der unsichere, löcherige Salzstock in Gorleben zum Atomklo der Republik ausgebaut werden. Hallo?! Geht’s noch?!
Instead, according to the will of the nuclear companies, the unsafe, holey salt dome in Gorleben is to be developed into the nuclear toilet of the republic. Discourse particlePUNC Are they crazy?
(Braunschweiger Zeitung, 12.10.2010)
On the basis of the German DeReKo, this talk will present 1) the inventory of combined question and exclamation marks, 2) their distribution, i.e. their preferred order and combination frequencies, and 3) the functions of these markings. It is proposed that the use of multiple punctuation marks reveals their meanings and can contribute to complement existing sentence mood typologies, thus going beyond the function of punctuation as a reading control (Bredel 2008).
Bredel, Ursula (2008), Die Interpunktion des Deutschen. Tübingen.
Croft, W. (1994), Speech act classification, language typology and cognition. In: S. Tsohatzidis (ed.), Foundations of speech act theory, 460–477. London.
Gärtner, H.-M. (ms), Special and Minor Sentence Types.
Searle, J. (1976), A Classification of Illocutionary Acts. Language in Society 5, 1–23.
Zaefferer, D. (2001), Deconstructing a Classical Classification. Revue Internationale de Philosophie 217, 209–25.
Section G: Punctuation and reading competence
Punctuation units in German school books are nowadays mostly integrated in grammar lessons. The connection between punctuation and grammar in education seems obvious because of the grammatical principle on which can be based the German system of punctuation. But a closer look on didactical punctuation units – mainly concentrating on the most difficult German punctuation mark: the comma – reveals that they refer more or less explicit to other punctuation principles that are beyond a systematic modeling of the German punctuation, such as prosodic, lexical or semantic features (Esslinger/Noack 2020). As these features are also mentioned in the official German norm (AR 2018) it could be supposed that they are on the basis of corresponding school books. In my talk I will discuss another (additional) explanation for the coexistence of punctuation criteria in school books that refer to different principles.
Namely, I will shed light on the question to what extent such references to other than grammatical principles can be explained by codification traditions in educational contexts. Therefore, a corpus of punctuation units in German school books from the end of the 18th century until now will be analysed. The analysis will focus on linguistic criteria that are given not only to explain the rules (e.g. the system) of German punctuation but also to rely on in cases of doubts. By this, I will try to reconstruct a hierarchy of punctuation principles and show how it changes in educational codification over time. A comparison with the evolving codification beyond school books (Rinas 2017) reveals important differences in the speed of progress as well as a large agreement in the referred principles. As such, my analysis will contribute to enhance the knowledge about the constitution and developmental parameters of the German punctuation codex and help to understand the roots of the current situation which is a permanent objective of didactic debates.
Esslinger, G. & Noack, C. (2020): Das Komma und seine Didaktik. SLLD-E (Sprachlich-Literarisches Lernen und Deutschdidaktik (Einführungen), Band 1).
Rat für deutsche Rechtschreibung (2018): Regeln und Wörterverzeichnis. Mannheim. Online verfügbar unter: www.rechtschreibrat.com/DOX/rfdr_Regeln_2016_redigiert_2018.pdf, 20.01.2023.
Rinas, K. (2017): Theorie der Punkte und Striche. Die Geschichte der deutschen Interpunktionslehre. Heidelberg: Winter.
Section H: Punctuation norms
In 2014, the National Institute of Korean Language, the South Korean government organ that sets language standards, announced special revisions to the punctuation section of the official Hangeul orthography that was adopted in 1988. The preface to the revisions states that the changes reflect the shift from vertical to horizontal writing and the decline in writing by hand in favor of writing on electronic devices.
In this paper, I discuss the 2014 punctuation revisions from a historical perspective focusing on how foreign languages and social change have influenced revisions to punctuation since the middle of the 20th century when Hangeul became the dominant writing system. During Japanese colonial rule from 1910 to 1945, Japanese was the official language, but Korean was required in schools, and publishing and media in Korean were active until the 1940s. In 1933, the first standard (though unofficial) Hangeul orthography developed by Koreans was announced and it became the basis for all subsequent orthographies in North and South Korea. The orthography was the first to contain a list and short description of punctuation marks, which reflected influence from Japanese and English. In 1948, South Korea adopted a 1946 revision of the 1933 orthography as its official orthography, but many Japanese-influenced marks, such as pause and sentence-ending markers, were retained for vertical writing, which had a long history in Korea. The next revision, in 1988, also retained most of these marks even though vertical writing was waning at the time.
The revisions in 2014 are notable because they are the first to drop punctuation marks for vertical writing, thus removing most Japanese-influenced marks. This reflects the overwhelming shift to horizontal writing during the 1990s as well as the growing influence of English on Korean. At the same time, the revisions recognize three different marks, two of which come from Japanese and English, for quoted speech and publication titles. This reflects the history of using different marks according to directional choice and contemporary concerns over the ease of using the marks on electronic devices.
The paper draws on Korean-language primary source documents and news reports of orthographic revisions, in addition to research literature.
In an article published in 2018, I set out from the traditional view of punctuation as a phenomenon confined to the surface of a written text, a mere reflection of more substantial qualities of the underlying linguistic structure, particularly those concerning the grammatical network. And, I argued, it is striking that translators of literary fiction into modern Swedish from source languages like English, French and Italian—even translators frequently and radically restructuring the grammatical network—seem generally inclined to take over its graphic reflection, i.e., in the demarcation of sentences, to restore the author’s punctuation in the target text. It almost looks, I suggested, as if punctuation actually sets the operative framework for translation on the grammatical level. I tried to support this hypothesis by some statistical evidence.
All translations examined in this article were performed in the 1950’s, and the historical perspective was not seriously touched upon. However, the question of chronology in the history of Swedish vernacular immediately appears: what came first? A stabilized writing system, including a subsytem of punctuation, or a specific translation norm, binding the translators’s working procedure strictly to the grammatical sentence? My general hypotehsis is that the modern translation norm is primary, fully developed in the 16th century Reformation Bible, and gradually followed in later centuries by a modern graphic writing system. This in turn took over a governing function in translating within certain influential literary genres. For example, in 19th century mass translation of commercial popular fiction, the regular appearance of a full stop in the source text provided a fixed point in the procedure—which was probably a badly needed relief to exhausted proletarian translators.
At the Regensburg conference I hope to be able empirically to substantiate some of these historical assumptions.
Wollin, Lars (2018): Punctuation: Providing the Setting for Translation? In: Punctuation: Past & Present. Papers Presented at a Symposium at The Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities, Stockholm, March 2–3, 2017. Edited by Bo Andersson and Merja Kytö. (Studia Neophilologica, Special Issue 2018, Vol 90, No. S1, 1-4.) Pp. 37–49.
Section I: Alternative and similiar forms of punctuation
For over more than 4,000 years ancient Egyptian was spoken and written in the northern Nile Valley. It is an autonomous branch of the Afroasiatic family languages. Over time ancient Egyptians resorted to four main scripts (hieroglyphs, hieratic, Demotic, and Coptic). Hieroglyphs, hieratic, and Demotic are logographic writing systems while Coptic is the only alphabetic writing system, derived from the Greek alphabet. Ancient Egyptian is written in scriptio continua, that is, there is no separation between words, phrases, sentences, … There is no punctuation stricto sensu like modern European languages for instance. However, during the second millennium BCE, ancient Egyptian scribes resorted to several means to structure the content of their literary texts. These means are referred as “paratextual marks” in Egyptological literature. After a brief presentation of this unique language and its writing systems, this contribution will focus on the textual production from the IInd millenium BCE, when (paratextual) marks flourishes in hieratic texts as means of text-dividers. In order to contribute to the typological comparison it will offer an in-depth overview of the recorded “punctuation” marks, which obey unspoken rules. Data will be regarded from a diachronic perspective. It will allow a discussion on their functions, uses, and variations in time and space.
Abbreviations are of three types: contraction, e.g. Prof.; initialisms, e.g. VIP; and acronyms which tend to be initialisms read as a word, e.g. NASA.
Abbreviations are indicated differently in different languages, but in many of the cases some text-category indicator (Nunberg 1990), which could be a punctuation mark and/or graphemic alternation (e.g. upper/lower case), is used. Apart from the [+elision] parameter (Fuhrhop and Hettwer 2022), which relates to all abbreviations, the three types of abbreviations may be distinguished by three additional parameters: whether an indicator is necessary [±obligatory]; whether the indicator alternates graphemically [±graphemic alternation]; and whether the resulting abbreviation may be read as a word [± word articulation]. In English, for example, a punctuation mark (period and apostrophe) is (prescriptively) obligatory for contractions, e.g. Prof., can’t, but not for initialisms and acronyms, e.g. USA or U.S.A. Graphemic alternation is used for almost all initialisms and acronyms; exceptions are acronyms such as laser and radar. Word articulation allows for acronyms, e.g. AIDS, scuba, to be distinguished from VIP, FAQ, and for contractions such as anon. as opposed to inc.
In this paper, following a presentation of material for written English, abbreviations will be presented from three other languages written in different writing systems: (1) Turkish, the major Turkic language, written in the Latin alphabet, and like other alphabetic systems, e.g. Greek and Cyrillic, distinguishes upper and lower case graphemes; (2) Hebrew, a north-western Semitic language, written in an abjad, which distinguishes several allographs according to their position in the word, but not in initial word position (cf. initial upper case in alphabetic systems); and (3) Hindi, an Indo-Aryan language, which uses an abugida writing system, devanagari, in which ligatures are added to the grapheme to indicate certain phonemes.
Fuhrhop, N and C. Hettwer 2022 “Comparing word marks,” in P. Rössler, P. Besl und A. Saller (eds.) Vergleichende Interpunktion – Comparative Punctuation. Berlin: de Gruyter, 263-287.
Nunberg, G. 1990. The Linguistics of Punctuation. Stanford, CA: Center for the Study of Language and Information.
Section J: Punctuation acquisition
Written French L1 students’ texts show many punctuation errors (Boivin & Pinsonneault, 2018), albeit their relative progress through the stages of punctuation acquisition (Arseneau, 2020). This may be due to students’ and teachers’ tendency to rely on vague and subjective criteria, such as prosody (Paolacci et al., 2016), rather than syntactic criteria. Could innovative teaching methods – focusing on syntactic criteria and metalanguage for punctuation marking, and fostering metalinguistic activity – help students move through punctuation acquisition stages more efficiently? This communication will present the results of a quasi-experimental study conducted with French L1 students (10-13 years old) in Quebec, Canada (Nadeau et al., 2021), supported by a systematic review of the stages of acquisition in French L1 punctuation (Arseneau, 2020). Results show that progress in the use of punctuation on some criteria are significantly stronger in the experimental group vs. the control group. The discussion will draw on punctuation acquisition stages, and tackle the role of text types in the use of punctuation (for example, narrative vs. descriptive) as well as the relevance of concepts such as “syntactic sentence” and “graphic sentence” to support metalinguistic discussion in French classes.
Arseneau, R. (2020). Comment la ponctuation se développe-t-elle chez les élèves? Une revue systématique des recherches empiriques en classe de français langue d’enseignement [How does punctuation develop in students? A systematic review of empirical research in French as the language of instruction]. Bellaterra Journal of Teaching & Learning Language & Literature, 13(3). dx.doi.org/10.5565/rev/jtl3.850
Boivin, M.-C., & Pinsonneault, R. (2018). Les erreurs de syntaxe, d’orthographe grammaticale et d’orthographe lexicale des élèves québécois en contexte de production écrite. [Syntax, grammatical spelling and lexical spelling errors of Quebec students in the context of written production] Revue canadienne de linguistique appliquée/ Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 21(1), 43-70.
Nadeau, M., Giguère, M.-H., & Fisher, C. (2021). Expérimentation de dispositifs didactiques en syntaxe et en ponctuation « à la manière » des dictées métacognitives et interactives, au 3e cycle primaire et 1er cycle secondaire et effet sur la compétence en écriture. [Experimentation with didactic devices in syntax and punctuation "in the manner" of metacognitive and interactive dictations, in the 3rd primary cycle and 1st secondary cycle and effect on writing skills.] Research report, FRQ-SC.https://frq.gouv.qc.ca/histoire-et-rapport/experimentation-de-dispositifs-didactiques-en-syntaxe-et-en-ponctuation-a-la-maniere-des-dictees-metacognitives-et-interactives-au-3e-cycle-primaire-et-1er-cycle-secondaire-et-effet-sur/
Paolacci, V., Bain, D., & Dufour, M.-P. (2016). L'enseignement de la ponctuation: le cas de la virgule. [The teaching of punctuation: the case of the comma.] In S. Chartrand (Ed.), Mieux enseigner la grammaire. Pistes didactiques et activités pour la classe. Montréal: ERPI Éducation.
What Thurmair (2022: 317) writes about the role of punctuation in GFL also applies to L2 Danish: questions of punctuation are rarely considered at all. Studies of teaching L1 Danish have integrated punctuation as part of the ongoing attention to writing at both school and university levels (e.g. Togeby et al. 2019; Holsting et al. 2021). Punctuation is addressed in major L2 Danish grammars (e.g. Fischer-Hansen/Kledal 2006; Lundskær-Nielsen/Holmes 2010), but there are very few research studies on foreign students' writing in L2 Danish in general, and punctuation is only sporadically addressed as part of orthography (e.g. Hauksdóttir 2012). At the same time, both a desire and a need for foreign language students to master punctuation have been identified (ibid.). Punctuation skills are seen as crucial to the learner's receptive and productive language competence (Thurmair 2022: 338f.), and the writing of a proficient L2 user is, according to GER, characterized as "orthographically free of error" (GER 2001: 118; cp. Stark 2022: 369). In her study of Italian GFL learners' use of commas, Stark (2022) points out that transfer from the first language seems to be an important source of especially redundant commas, and that the main challenge for L2 learners seems to be to detach themselves from L1 comma strategies. Studies have shown that L1 and L2 (non-)equivalence determines whether positive or negative lexical transfer occurs (Yamashita/Jiang 2010: 661f., Paqout/Granger 2012: 140f.). There is also evidence that L1 influence seems to decrease with increasing L2 level (Hüttner 2007). Although transfer of signs may be different from lexical transfer (cf. Thurmair 2022: 334), these observations, raise the questions, whether non-equivalences between Danish and German punctuation influence the correlation between native and foreign language punctuation skills, and whether this possible influence is dependent on general L2 language competence. To answer these questions, this study compares German and Danish written assignments of 34 German first and second year students (GER level B1; C1), who have Danish as their subject of study (corpus size: approx. 27,500 words). The study shows that an interlingual difference, namely facultative commas in front of subordinate clauses in Danish, seems to be decisive for students' error rates, regardless of L2 level.
Fisher-Hansen, B. & Kledal, A. (2006): Grammatikken – håndbog i dansk grammatik for udlændinge. København: Specialpædagogisk Forlag.
Hauksdóttir, A. (2012): “Dansk som fremmedsprog i en akademisk kontekst”. Københavnerstudier i tosprogethed, vol. 68, Københavns Universitet, Det Humanistiske Fakultet.
Holsting, A.; Rathje, M.; Svendsen, J.T.; Lindø, A.V. (2021): ”Hvad retter de? Nyindskrevne studerendes revision af universitetsopgaver”. Nydanske Sprogstudier NyS 59. 157-186.
Hüttner, J.I. (2007): Academic Writing in a Foreign Language. An Extended Genre Analysis of Student Texts, Frankfurt a.M.: Peter Lang.
Lundskær-Nielsen, T. & Holmes, Philip (2010): Danish. A Comprehensive Grammar. London, New York: Routledge.
Paquot, M. & Granger, S. (2012): “Formulaic language in learner corpora”. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 32, 130-149.
Stark, L. (2022): „Zur Kommasetzung italienischer DaF-Lernender. Inter- und Intralinguale Fehlerursachen“. In: Rössler, P.; P. Besl; A. Saller (eds.): Vergleichende Interpunktion – Comparative Punctuation. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter. 369-396.
Thurmair, M. (2022): „Interpunktion – (K)ein Thema für Deutsch als Fremdsprache?“. In: Rössler, P.; P. Besl; A. Saller (eds.): Vergleichende Interpunktion – Comparative Punctuation. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter. 317-341.
Togeby, O.; Hobel, P.; Haaning, K.; Qvortrup, A.; Ljungdalh, A.K. (2019): Faglighed i gymnasiet. Delrapport 4 om dansk. København: Undervisningsministeriet.
Yamashita, J. & Jiang, N. (2010): “L1 Influence on the Acquisition of L2 Collocations: Japanese ESL Users and EFL Learners Acquiring English Collocations”. I: TESOL Quarterly, vol. 44, nr. 4, 647-668.