To receive regular updates, fill in your details below. Join now. Punctuation is generally seen as trivial by many people. It is not usually taught when learning a foreign language.

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To receive regular updates, fill in your details below. Join now. Punctuation is generally seen as trivial by many people. It is not usually taught when learning a foreign language. In fact, many grammar books do not even mention it. However, a translator should be aware of its importance. Punctuation can have a semantic function, changing the meaning of a text depending on its place inside it. In many cases also, one language would use certain punctuation signs where another language would use others.

This article will explore these differences. Although the three languages presented here have some punctuation rules in common regarding brackets, apostrophes, periods , they also have enough differences in the use of punctuation to present certain challenges for translators, such as the ones regarding the quotation marks , the comma , and the dash.

The punctuation rules that differ from one language to another are not prescriptive; however, their misuse can be considered negligence, or even a grammatical error, especially when translating academic articles. This article deals only with American English, as there are also some differences in the use of punctuation between British English and American English. The French language is the standard one used in France. Only the main differences in the use of punctuation signs between the three languages will be emphasized, and only some of their most common uses at this current time.

With that in mind, let us continue with a description of the main differences for each of the punctuation signs that might present difficulties for translators. It is considered standard in American English for other punctuation signs such as periods and commas to be placed within quotations Chicago 6.

General exceptions to this rule are the colons and semicolons Chicago 6. The quotation marks in American English are also used to indicate dialog, encompassing each spoken sentence direct discourse Chicago In French, the first line of dialog starts with quotation marks, then each subsequent line of dialog starts with a dash marks Ramat and Muller , 95; Riegel, Pellat, and Rioul , The end of the dialog is indicated by closing quotation.

If only one person speaks, then only quotation marks are used. In Romanian, there are no quotation marks for the dialog which is indicated also by dashes Stan , 58 , but only to indicate that the characters are thinking or speaking to themselves direct speech Popa and Popa , The comma is probably the most versatile punctuation mark in all three languages.

Several differences in its use stand out between French, Romanian, and American English. American English would also use a comma in cases when French and Romanian would use a colon — e. French and Romanian use a comma to separate decimals in numbers Ramat and Muller , 79; Stan , Romanian uses sometimes a period or a space to separate every three digits or nothing, leaving the digits grouped together , while French uses a space Ramat and Muller , American English generally uses a period to separate decimals and a comma to separate the digits Chicago 9.

As stated in the Quotation Marks section, French and Romanian use the dash also to indicate dialogue, while American English uses quotation marks for that. There are other American English uses for the dash instead of different punctuation signs used in French and Romanian, such as Note : there are no spaces before or after the dash in American English :.

The ellipsis is also used as an interruption in a quote, to mark a fragment is missing from a citation. American English does not Chicago Of course, this article is by no means exhaustive. For highly detailed explanations regarding the use of punctuation in each language, I would recommend the titles listed in the References and the Further Reading sections.

They are not the only ones that could help a translator navigate the punctilious seas of punctuation, but they do represent a good starting point. The Chicago Manual of Style Online, 16th edition. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Harris, Sally S. Polsdorfer, J. Longe and Deirdre S. Blanchfield, Gale Group. Popa, Ion, and Marinela Popa. Ramat, Aurel, and Romain Muller.

Dijon: Editions De Champlain. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. Robinson, Richard; Jill Granger. The Little Prince. English translation: Gregory Norminton. Alma Classics Ltd. Romanian translation: Lucian Pricop. Bucharest: Cartex. Sims, Judith. Stan, Mihail. Bucharest: ART. The Associated Press Stylebook. Cambridge University Press, Kindle Edition. Casagrande, June. Strunk Jr. The Elements of Style 4th edition. Abbadie, C. Chovelon, and M. Grenoble: Presses Universitaires de Grenoble.

Retrieved June 7, Drincu, Sergiu. Graur, Alexandru. Mic tratat de ortografie. Bucharest: Humanitas. Remember me. Join Translation Journal. Now check your email to confirm your subscription. There was an error submitting your subscription. Please try again. Email Address. October Issue. Log in. Log in Username Password Remember me Forgot login?


Alexandru Graur

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