Periods and commas
Perhaps this is the dullest topic ever, but this is a small something that no Chinese has been able to give me a clear answer.
Q: When do I know when to place a comma; when do I know when to place a period?
I often read a string a phrases that are strung together by commas and then are finally ended with a period, but I can't see if there is rhyme or reason to it. I have pointed this out to some Chinese, and they say these phrases have a relationship so they are connected by a comma. This seems pretty willy-nilly. Are there firm rules?
xiaophilJune 19, 2009, 05:22 AM
I suppose an example could help:
In English, we probably would have had at least four sentences here.
Anyway, thanks to anyone who can give some input.
xiaophilJune 19, 2009, 06:01 AM
Anceint Greek too! I suppose most of the old languages didn't bother with punctuation marks. Given the Chinese character of going with the flow, I suspect there isn't a rule--just a feeling.
changyeJune 19, 2009, 05:49 AM
I don't know if there are clear rules for punctuations in modern Chinese. All I can say is that ancient Chinese people didn't use punctuation marks in writings, which is rather inconvenient for readers.
WillBuckinghamJune 19, 2009, 08:45 AM
Punctuation? Dull? But I love punctuation!
I was talking with a Chinese friend about all this a couple of days ago, as I was momentarily baffled by the difference in a text I was reading between commas (,) and enumeration/serial commas ( 、 顿号 dun4hao4). Anyway, the following article on Wikipedia clears this one up:
Unfortunately it doesn't help when it comes to ordinary commas (，) and periods (。)
There's a scholarly paper on segmentation of long Chinese sentences using commas here. From the abstract it looks forbiddingly technical ("The comma plays an important role in long Chinese sentence segmentation. This paper proposes a method for classifying commas in Chinese sentences by their context, then segments a long sentence according to the classification results. Experimental results show that accuracy for the comma classification reaches 87.1 percent...").
I haven't yet managed to download it due to a tricksy internet connection here. But it may shed some light. Or else further darkness...
WillBuckinghamJune 19, 2009, 08:52 AM
Just managed to download it. It definitely sheds darkness, rather than light... But for those with a penchant for graphs and tables of numbers, it may provide some diversion...
bababardwanJune 20, 2009, 01:08 AM
While in pinyin input mode,just press the key above the right shift key.In English mode it usually makes this \ or | when you press the shift key.But in pinyin input 、、、、、、
xiaophilJune 19, 2009, 06:48 AM
Yes, I can see your rationale in your example, but my example was taken directly from a "模范" essay in my old textbook, so I think it was already okay. That's not to say there couldn't be an editing error... Anyway, I have decided it is the writer's discretion until I hear otherwise.
Any Chinese grammarians out there?