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Home > Knowledge Bank > Learning Mandarin > Punctuations in Chinese Language

Punctuations in Chinese Language

2011.11.06


Chinese language learners will meet many kinds of punctuations during the process of learning Chinese in Chinese language school. For the purpose of using the punctuations correctly, we should know some background knowledge of the punctuation.

The first item students who study in China should learn first is the history of the punctuation. In ancient China, people wrote articles without any punctuation, which is hard for them to read and even cause misunderstanding to readers. The symbols of “句读” was invented until the Han Dynasty.

In Mandarin learning courses, teachers explain “句读” as “sentences and phrases”. A sentence with a semantic integrity is called “句”. The fragment with incomplete meaning with a pause is named “读”, which is equal to the comma in contemporary Chinese language because it has the same pronunciation with “逗(comma)”. People expressed “句读” with “。” and“,”until Song Dynasty. All mentioned above show the origin of the punctuations in China.

In modern and contemporary Chinese history, there are more documents were designed to standardize the usage of the punctuations, which are students who learn Chinese in China should know. The first one is in the year of 1919, when the Mandarin Unifying Preparatory Committee started to unify the punctuations. They unified twelve kinds of punctuations on the basis of the former punctuations by referring the universally used punctuations in various nations.

After the new China was founded, the General Administration of Press and Publication summarized the rules and usage of the punctuations and published the book 《标点符号用法》in 1951. And in October of the same year, the Government Administration Council made 《关于学习标点符号用法的指示》. Students learn Mandarin should know that it was the tome that the usage of the punctuations is standardized.

After a period of time using the standardized usage of the punctuations, the National Language Committee jointed with the Press and Publication Administration revised and published the《标点符号用法》, making new provisions and instructions about the punctuations and the usage. Teachers will tell you the relevant background knowledge when you attend to school to study Mandarin.

After knowing so much about the history of the forming process of the punctuations, it is time for students who intend to study Chinese to know the punctuations we are using at present. The punctuations we use now consist of two sorts, namely “marks” and “dot marks”.

To know more about the two types of punctuations, teachers in Mandarin language courses in China often tell you how to tell them apart and how to apply them to the practical usage.

The main function of the “marks” is to clearly mark the nature and function of the sentences. Among all kinds of the “marks”, the most frequently used are nine as follows: the quotation marks, the brackets, the dashes, the suspension points, the marks of emphasis, the connectives, the separation dots, the punctuation marks used to enclose the title of a book or an article and the line under a proper noun. Students who learn Chinese language should know that each of them has different functions and usage.

Another type is the “dot marks”, which are used at the end of the sentences. There are three kinds of “dot marks”, namely, the periods, the question marks and the exclamation marks. They are all used to express the pause or stop at the end of the sentences as well as the manner of speaking of the sentences. In the sentence, the “dot marks” can be divided into four types, they are the comma, the pause mark, the semicolon and the colon, indicating the different pause.

The most effective way of learning Chinese is to study under the instructions of the teachers, so the best place to learn Chinese is the Chinese language learning school because teachers will explain all kinds of knowledge in detail to help Chinese language learners to improve their language skills.

After knowing the background knowledge and different types of punctuations and the usage, students can understand and put them into use easier.
 

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