52 States in 8 Months

Questions, Answers and Quotations

Posted in University stuff by Ulf on February 23, 2009

When I watched the tagesthemen last night, I recognized a question mark at the end of a Korean sentence:


I talked to my office mates today, and it turned out that those punctuation marks are very widespread — just as arabic numbers, for example. Ji-Chul said the Koreans would use the question mark (?), the exclamation mark (!) and the normal period (.) just as we use them in English.

The Chinese do it very similarly. They only draw a circle (。) at the end of a sentence instead of the normal dot, but the comma (,) is written just as in English. Mao Ying also told me about their use of quotation marks. They would usually use the English 6699 glyphs. Only titles such as the names of books and papers would be cited with the French «…». In this respect our German 9966 seems to be more of a special case. Like the Danish »…«.

When I demonstrated the German way of writing quotation marks, Mao Ying replied that this way he could not figure out if my writing was upside down or not — as he was not familiar with my lousy German handwriting ;-).


In fact, the rotated “Hello” looks quite Hindi to me. Since the Indians mostly write in English, they have adopted most of the English punctuation. Only the full stop is different: they use a vertical line (।) in the end of a sentence. Vivek calls is “Purne Viram” while Wikipedia says  “poorna viraam”. Both spellings don’t get many hits on Google. For a Nonindian, it’s very hard to see this line in the end of a sentence (btw: Feel free to translate to quotation in the following sentence!):


Even the mathematicians share the punctuation which is common around the world: the question mark, the exclamation mark and the period (ordered by increasing commonness). ¿Seems like only the Spanish needed their own way, right?

bild5706UPDATE: When I just read another chapter of Reich-Ranitzkis “Lauter Verrisse”, I realized that he alsos uses the Guillemets (»…«) instead of normal quotation marks. And Wikipedia says about these Guillemets, that they are written as «…» in Switzerland, even in German texts. Seems like the choice of what quotation mark to use and how to use it is very arbitrary.


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