Friday, August 31, 2012

Comma chameleon

Both Simplified & Traditional Chinese have two commas, and I think think the distinction is pretty useful. 

The straight comma (the first one) is a list comma or enumeration comma. "I'm going to the store to get kale, Nutella and Johnny Walker Blue." Note that ZH doesn't used the Oxford/serial comma that comes before the conjunction before the last list item and in fact most commonly doesn't use a conjunction at all.

The curly English-y looking comma (the second one) joins clauses. "I'm going to the store, and Brad is going to the strip club." Comma splicing is common which is why a lot of ZH machine translations seem extra super clunky.

Other noteworthy Chinese punctuation worth reading about: brackets & interpuncts. Brackets are really cool in Japanese too.

(I shamefully stole the title of this post from a coworker.)

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