Different Punctuation Marks

1.2 Different punctuation marks in languages

There are more than thousand languages in this world which are using different punctuation marks.

Felicia Bratu (July 2005) have done a research regarding “Punctuation by different Languages”. There, Bratu has highlighted the difference punctuation marks used by different languages. According to him;

French Language

French and English have the same punctuation marks, but some of their uses are significantly different.

The major difference in using the period is when writing numbers. Either a period or a space will be used to separate the thousands. 22,222,222 (English) = 22.222.222 or 22 222 222 (French). Also, in French, the period is not used after abbreviations or measurement: 22 m (meters); 22 min (minutes).

A comma in French is used as a decimal point: 2.20 (English) = 2, 20 (French).

In French, a space is required both before and after all two- (or more) part punctuation marks and symbols, including: “:”, “;”, “« »”, “!”, “?”, “%”, “$”, “#”, etc.

Canadian French doesn’t require a space before punctuation such as this, excepting the colon.

Spanish Language

Spanish punctuation is a little typical and requests the use of an inverted mark of interrogation or exclamation at the beginning of sentences, as well as the normal mark at the end. The same rule applies to Latin Spanish as well.

German and Other European Languages

Most European languages are using the period as the thousands separator and the comma as the decimal separator.

A number like 22,222.00 (English) = 22.222,00 (European languages)

German and a few other European languages use quotation marks that are similar to English except that the opening quotation mark is below rather than above. Here is an example from the Romanian language: „Cefaci?”,întreaba ea. (”How are you?”, she asked.)

Japanese and Chinese Languages

Japanese and Chinese question marks and exclamation points are the same as in English, but the period and comma are different in shape from Western equivalents.

Japanese periods and commas are placed near the base line in a horizontal way, while they are placed at the right side in a vertical way.

Burmese Language

We notice most punctuation differences while handling translation and typesetting projects. Burmese punctuation was one of the most interesting cases.

There are two break characters in Burmese, drawn as one or two downward strokes (I or II), that act as a comma and a period. And, our first impression of the question mark in this language is that of a smiling face.

Burmese colon

Burmese period

Burmese question mark

Farsi Language

The decimal separator is like a forward slash, but lowers in height (/). The thousands separator looks like an apostrophe (‘).

Ethiopian Languages

These punctuation marks are very different from all other languages: commas look like the Western colon; the colon resembles the English version, but with two small horizontal lines – one above and one below; the semicolon looks like an English colon with a small horizontal line between the dots, etc.

Hindi Language

The end of a sentence is indicated in Hindi by a vertical line “|”. All the other punctuation marks are used in Hindi just as they are in English.