Chinese punctuation

Posted on



Chinese punctuation uses a different set of punctuation marks from European languages, although the concept of modern standard punctuation was adapted in the written language during the 20th century from Western punctuation marks. Before that, the concept of punctuation in Chinese literature existed mainly in the form of Judou (simplified Chinese: 句读; traditional Chinese: 句讀; pinyin: jù dòu; literally: “sentences and clauses”), a system of punctuation marks denoting stops and pauses, though many works of poetry and prose, as well as nearly all calligraphic works, omitted Judou marks, for in most occasions, it was not necessary to understanding meaning.[1][2] The first book to be printed with modern punctuation was Outline of the History of Chinese Philosophy (中國哲學史大綱) by Hu Shi (胡適), published in 1919. Traditional poetry and calligraphy maintains the punctuation-free style. The usage of punctuation is regulated by the Chinese national standard GB/T 15834–2011 “General rules for punctuation” (traditional Chinese: 標點符號用法; simplified Chinese: 标点符号用法; pinyin: biāodiǎn fúhào yòngfǎ)

Full stop ( 。 )
The Chinese full stop (U+3002 ideographic full stop) is a fullwidth small circle (Chinese: 句號; pinyin: jùhào). In horizontal writing, the full stop is placed in the middle (bottom left in Mainland China); in vertical writing, it is placed below and to the right of the last character (U+FE12 presentation form for vertical ideographic full stop) in Mainland China, and in the middle in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau.[8]

Quotation marks ( 「…」 , ﹁…﹂ , “…” )
In Traditional Chinese, the double and single quotation marks are fullwidth 『 』 (U+300E left white corner bracket, U+300F right white corner bracket) and 「 」 (U+300C left corner bracket, U+300D right corner bracket). The double quotation marks are used when embedded within single quotation marks: 「…『…』…」. In vertical text, quotation marks are rotated 90° clockwise (﹁﹂ (U+FE41 presentation form for vertical left angle bracket, U+FE42 presentation form for vertical right corner bracket)).[8][9][10]
In Simplified Chinese, the European-style quotation marks are always used in horizontal text. Here, single quotation marks are used when embedded within double quotation marks: “…‘…’…”. These quotation marks are fullwidth in printed matter but share the same codepoints as the European quotation marks in Unicode, so they require a Chinese-language font to be displayed correctly. In vertical text, corner brackets rotated 90° clockwise (﹁﹂), are used as in Traditional Chinese. Although Simplified Chinese is usually written horizontally, corner brackets are commonly encountered in vertically-printed newspaper headlines.[11]

A sign in a Zhuhai park, which, if we reproduce enumeration commas in English, can be rendered nearly word-for-word as: “It is strictly forbidden to pick flowers、 leaves、 fruit, [or to] dig out roots、 medicinal plants!”

Enumeration comma (、)
The enumeration comma (U+3001 ideographic comma) or “dun comma” (Chinese: 頓號; pinyin: dùnhào; literally: “pause mark”) must be used instead of the regular comma when separating words constituting a list. Chinese language does not traditionally observe the English custom of a serial comma (the comma before and or or in a list), although the issue is of little consequence in Chinese at any rate, as the English “A, B, and C” is more likely to be rendered in Chinese as “A、B及C” or more often as “A、B、C”, without any word for “and”, see picture to the right.[8]
Middle dot (‧)
Chinese uses a middle dot to separate characters in non-Han personal names, such as Tibetan, Uyghur, etc. For example “Nur Bekri” ( نۇر بەكرى;), the name of a Chinese politician of Uyghur extraction is rendered as “努尔·白克力” . “Leonardo da Vinci” is often transcribed to Mandarin as: traditional Chinese: 李奧納多‧達‧文西; simplified Chinese: 列奥纳多‧达‧芬奇. The middle dot is also fullwidth in printed matter, while the halfwidth middle dot (·) is also used in computer input, which is then rendered as fullwidth in Chinese-language fonts.
In Taiwan, the hyphenation point (‧) (U+2027 hyphenation point) is used instead for the same purpose.[12]
Title marks ( 《…》, 〈…〉, ﹏﹏﹏ )
For titles of books, films, and so on, Chinese uses fullwidth double angle brackets[13] 《…》 (U+300A left double angle bracket, U+300B right double angle bracket), and fullwidth single angle brackets, 〈…〉 (U+3008 left angle bracket, U+3009 right angle bracket). The latter is used when embedded within the former: 《…〈…〉…》.

In Traditional Chinese, single title marks are also used for articles in or sections of a book whereas Simplified Chinese used double title marks for all titles. ﹏﹏﹏ (wavy underline, U+FE4F wavy low line) is also used as a title mark.[8][9]
Ellipsis ( …… )
In Chinese, the ellipsis is written with six dots (not three) occupying the same space as two characters in the center of a line.[3][14]
Unicode provides an explicitly centered U+22EF midline horizontal ellipsis (⋯) character[15] in addition to the inexplicit U+2026 horizontal ellipsis (…) character.[16]

Em dash ( —— )
Similarly, the em dash is written so that it occupies the space of two characters in the center of the line. There should be no breaking in the line.[3] Chinese dash is Chinese: 破折號; pinyin: pòzhéhào.
En dash ( — )
When connecting two words to signify a range, Chinese generally uses a full-width[citation needed] en dash occupying the space of one character (e.g. 1月—7月 “January to July”). A single em dash character, or a tilde may also be used.[17]

Wavy dash ( ~ )
The wavy dash (U+FF5E wave dash[A]) can also signify a range in Chinese (e.g. 5~20個字 “5 to 20 words”). It is more commonly but not exclusively used when the numbers are estimates (e.g. circa dates and temperatures in weather forecasts). For the most part, however, the en dash and wavy dash are interchangeable; usage is largely a matter of personal taste or institutional style.
In informal use (such as texting), wavy dashes are also used to indicate a prolonged vowel similar to informal English’s repeated letters (e.g. 哇~~ “waaah”) or to indicate stress in places where English would employ an emphatic tone marked variously by italics or bolding (e.g. 要~~ “I want it”).[8]

Similar to the spacing between letters (kerning) in European languages, Chinese writing uses a very narrow space between characters, though it does not observe the equivalent to the wider space between words except on rare occasions. Chinese—particularly classical Chinese—is thus a form of scriptio continua and it is common for words to be split between lines with no marking in the text equivalent to the English hyphen.
When a space is used, it is also fullwidth (U+3000 ideographic space). One instance of its usage is as an honorific marker. A modern example in 20th century Taiwan, is found in the reference to Chiang Kai-shek as 先總統 蔣公 (Former President, Lord Chiang), in which the preceding space serves as an honorific marker for 蔣公. This use is also still current in very formal letters or other old-style documents,[8] as well as religious scripture.
When Chinese is romanized, spaces are used to assist in reading. Rules vary between systems but most commonly—as in Hanyu Pinyin—the spaces properly occur between semantic divisions (i.e., words) but in practice are often placed between phonetic divisions (i.e., individual characters). In the Wade-Giles system, separate characters within a word were noted by hyphens but this is increasingly uncommon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *